Prepare to be star-struck. Los Angeles Theatre Works' fall-winter season for its "The Plays The Thing" Radio Drama Series features a veritable who's-who of TV and Hollywood.
"We've lined up a sensational list of plays and a dream cast to go with each," said producing director Susan Albert Loewneberg. "I love knowing that we can bring a large cast extravaganza...to such a wide audience through radio, while letting those who see the performances live view their favorite stars up close."
Theatre Works' Radio Drama Series segments are recorded before a live audience for future broadcast on KCRW, 89.9 FM.
The season began, Oct. 22-25 with Jon Robin Baitz's Mizlansky/Zilinsky (soon to be staged at NY's Manhattan Theatre Club with Nathan Lane). Then came Paula Vogel's How I Learned To Drive (Nov. 5-8).
Next up, Dec. 1-4, is The Imaginary Invalid, Moliere's comic look at a hypochondriac. Beth Milles adapts/directs the comedy for the Actors' Gang, which had won acclaim for its 1996 staging of the work. "The story," Milles says, "about a man so afraid of dying...he tries to marry his daughter to a doctor, is all about hijinks and histrionics, and that will translate to radio well." Milles staged God Said `Ha!' on Broadway and Carroll O'Connor's A Certain Labor Day in San Francisco. For this project, Milles worked with composer Laurence O'Keefe adapting original music written in 1673, for interludes during play.
Starring in the show is Daniel Parker, whom Milles cast because he "[understands] the childlike spirit of this decrepit, old man."
Upcoming in the Radio Series:
Jan. 7-10, 1998: The General From America
Richard Nelson looks at General Benedict Arnold, in a play that won acclaim at London's Royal Shakespeare Company. The cast: Douglas Weston, Alfred Molina (Molly Sweeney), Stacy Keach (The Kentucky Cycle) and Richard Dreyfuss.
Jan. 28-31, 1998: I Sent A Letter To My Love
Based on a novel by Bernice Rubens, this Jeffrey Sweet/Melissa Manchester chamber musical will star Manchester. It's the story of a lonely man who takes out a personal ad. When he receives no reply, his sister takes pity and makes believe she's a stranger writing back. Naturally, complications ensue.
Feb. 18-21, 1998: A View From The Bridge
Arthur Miller's drama of a lower class Italian family nearly wrecked by papa's jealousy over his daughter's new boyfriend, will star Anthony LaPaglia (The Rose Tattoo), Frances McDormand, Chazz Palminteri (A Bronx Tale) and Marisa Tomei (Slavs!, Waiting For Lefty at CSC in NYC). Interest in this production will be especially keen, since LaPaglia will play in Bridge on Broadway, starting Nov. 25. An LATW spokesperson told Playbill On-Line she assumed the other performers were doing only the radio taping art the Roundabout production, which has yet (as of Aug. 4) to announce further casting.
March 4-7, 1998: Sheindele
A look at the ultra-Orthodox Hassidic community East of Jerusalem in a play first staged by Israel's Cameri Theatre.
"The Play's The Thing," begun in 1990, is produced in association with Santa Monica College's National Public Radio station KCRW. Winner of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's Gold & Silver Awards, the series is devoted "to the discovery and presentation of new plays and new interpretations of classic works." Performers in the 1996-97 season included Ed Asner, Tyne Daly and Dan Butler.
The National Endowment for the Arts recently awarded $100,000 to L.A. Theatre Works to maintain what is the "largest and only library of contemporary American and classic stage plays on audio tape, and to market and distribute the plays on audiocassette and CD throughout the U.S."
L.A. Theatre Works has also launched a project donating tapes to school libraries in underprivileged areas across the country.
For tickets ($24-$27) and information on these 8 PM performances at Doubletree Guest Suites in Santa Monica, call (310) 827-0889, or refer to the L.A. Theatre Works regional listing on Playbill On-Line.
-- By David Lefkowitz