Wm. S. Leavengood, whose domestic drama, The Preservation Society played at NY's Primary Stages a season ago, will now hit the other coast with his zany farce, What Is Art?. Lawrence Cox will direct the play at the Court Theatre in Los Angeles, CA, Aug. 2-Sept. 7.
When a young man (named Art) assumes the identity of a world-famous artist in order to woo a sexy dealer, he discovers she's actually a trained assassin. Not only that, his mother's in town and has a suitor of her own.
Playing Art will be Ian Ziering, best known as the character Steve Sanders on TV's "Beverly Hills 90210." Ziering also appeared on Broadway in I Remember Mama. Joining him in the Art cast are Rhonda Aldrich, Helen Cates, Joy Claussen, Greer Coursey, Joseph Della Sorte, Ian Gomez, Adam Paul and Thomas Tofel.
Other works by Leavengood include 17 Black and Florida Crackers, which was staged by NY's now-defunct Circle Repertory Theatre in 1989. Those two plays and What Is Art were also recently included in an anthology of Leavengood's works, "Florida Bound," published by Holvoe Books. Other plays by Leavengood include Dinosaur Limbo, Day Of The Onondaga, The Head and Truck Stop Parking Lot.
Asked about the choice of soap opera's Ziering to play Art in Art, playwright Leavengood told Playbill On-Line (July 30), "Ian brings likeability and charisma to the role of Art. The character is such a manipulator, you need him not to be too slick. He's still a guy in over his head." What inspired Art? "I went to see a production of Lend Me A Tenor," recalls Leavengood, "and it was a howling success, but I realized the script itself was only moderately amusing. It was the director and stars squeezing every inch of comedy out of it that really made it happen. So I wanted to try my hand at the form."
Current projects for Leavengood include two screenplays, the beginnings of a new comedy, and revisions of the plays Bedtime Stories and The Head, both of which have been optioned for New York.
For tickets ($22-$25) and information on What Is Art at The Court Theatre on North LaCienega, call (818) 789-8499.
--By David Lefkowitz