“Who are Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor?” is not the correct Jeopardy answer to “Most successful married couple onstage together.” Burton and Taylor had already been divorced twice and were into other relationships when they appeared in the 1983 Broadway production of Noël Coward’s Private Lives. Answering with “Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy” would also be wrong—those two were married nearly 52 years and copped prizes in every existing medium, if frequently independently. Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee? Nope. They did a few Broadway plays together, but were more often together Off Broadway and in regional theater. The correct answer is “Who are Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne?” Between the early 1920s and their retirement in 1960, Wisconsin native Lunt and London-born Fontanne co-starred in no fewer than 27 Broadway plays.
As theater history demonstrates, married couples’ sharing the stage is not exotic, but it is hardly the norm either. The latest duo to toss its hat into the ring is Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, who star in a Broadway revival of Neil Simon’s 1968 bittersweet comedy, Plaza Suite, opening March 13. They will occupy Suite 719 as three different pairs: a couple trying to save their marriage (Act I), old flames seeing if a spark remains (Act II), and parents desperate to persuade their hysterical daughter to go through with her wedding (Act III).