Attention, romantic comedy fans: February is Cactus Flower month. As an off-Broadway revival of the 1965 Broadway hit prepares to start previews on February 24 at the Westside Theatre, movie fans can enjoy the play’s storyline in Just Go With It, opening Valentine’s weekend with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston.
These days, Cactus Flower is best known as the vehicle that won an Oscar for 24-year-old Goldie Hawn, a star of the 1969 film adaptation of Abe Burrows’ play. (Burrows, who based his script on a French comedy, is best remembered as the book writer of Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.) But before Hawn, Walter Matthau and Ingrid Bergman starred in the hit movie, Cactus Flower had a run of more than 1,200 performances in a Broadway premiere that starred Lauren Bacall, Barry Nelson and Brenda Vaccaro.
The convoluted plot involves Julian, a randy bachelor dentist who pretends to be married in order to avoid committing himself to his wild young girlfriend, Toni. After Toni attempts suicide, Julian decides to marry her, but he must get a “divorce” first, so he enlists his office assistant, Stephanie (who has a crush on Julian herself), to pretend to be his wife.
Just Go With It features Sandler as a plastic surgeon who pretends to be unhappily married to attract women. When he meets Brooklyn Decker (a.k.a. the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover model and wife of Andy Roddick) and decides that she really is the girl of his dreams, he enlists his office manager (Aniston) and her kids to pose as his family. Romantic hijinks presumably ensue. With a screenplay by Allan Loeb and Timothy Dowling, Just Go With It gives credit to I.A.L. Diamond’s 1969 Cactus Flower script as well as Burrows’ play.
Producer Daryl Roth’s forthcoming off-Broadway revival of Cactus Flower will star Maxwell Caulfield as Julian and Lois Robbins as Stephanie. Still to be cast is the juicy role of Toni, which earned Vaccaro a Tony nomination.
“Theater audiences love nothing more than a wonderful well-written comedy," Roth told Broadway.com, "and Cactus Flower, which is clever and witty, is pure entertainment! The fact that the movie is coming out at the same time is serendipitous; I think it points to the fact that the material is timeless and works well in different mediums.”