The New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW) production of John Guare's Lydie Breeze, a two-part play cycle comprising Lydie Breeze Part 1: Bulfinch's Mythology and Part 2: The Sacredness of the Next Task, begins performances May 4 at NYTW. The limited engagement of Lydie Breeze opens officially May 15 and runs a total of 26 performance cycles.
NYTW artistic director James C. Nicola developed the new five-hour, two night opus which has been "significantly rewritten" by Guare. Originally produced separately in the '80s, NYTW will present the plays as a "drama in two parts," with Lydie meant to be seen on consecutive week nights or together on a single weekend day.
Lydie Breeze deals with a group of post-Civil War veterans seeking a 19th-century utopian commune. The two plays were originally known as Gardenia and Lydie Breeze when first presented in 1982. They are part of Guare's "Nantucket" trilogy of plays. Nicola had luck in a 1983 presentation of the works in Washington, D.C.
Directed by Itamar Kubovy, the cast of Lydie Breeze will feature Joanna P. Adler (Beaty), Matt Servitto (Dan), Bill Camp (Joshua), Alicia Goranson (young Lydie), Scott Schmidt (young Jeremiah) Elizabeth Marvel (Lydie), Jefferson Mays (Jeremiah), Christopher McCann (O'Malley, Lucian), Boris McGiver (Amos), Alexandra Oliver (Gussie) and Thomas Shaw (Jude).
The production team comprises scenic designer Neil Patel, costume designer Gabriel Berry, lighting designer Brian MacDevitt, sound designer Kurt Kellenberger and original music compositions by Adam Guettel. Playwright Guare was said to have had a longstanding intention to place the two earlier works in a new context. In 1985, James Nicola (then working at New Playwrights' Theatre in Washington, D.C.) directed a run of both works using a single cast and design team; that production subsequently won a Helen Hayes Award. Notes indicate that Guare has revisited the work(s) over the years and, during a 2000 workshop put on by NYTW affiliate Elizabeth Marvel, a presentation of the plays as a combined cycle inspired Guare and NYTW to initiate the upcoming NYTW production.
Guare's other plays include The House of Blue Leaves (1971), To Wally Pantoni We Leave a Credenza (1964), Cop Out ( 1968), the Tony Award-winning libretto for the musical Two Gentlemen of Verona (1971), Marco Polo Sings a Solo (1973), Rich and Famous (1974), Landscape of the Body (1977), Bosoms and Neglect (1979), Moon Over Miami (1988), Six Degrees of Separation (1990), Four Baboons Adoring the Sun (1992) and Lake Hollywood (1999).
Tickets for the two-play cycle run $90 for both parts during previews and week nights and $110 when seen together on Sat. or Sun. The NYTW is located at 79 East 4th Street between Bowery and Second Avenue. For tickets call the NYTW box office at (212) 460-5475.
-- By Murdoch McBride