Albee's Occupant, with Ruehl and Bryggman, Begins Off-Broadway Run May 6

News   Albee's Occupant, with Ruehl and Bryggman, Begins Off-Broadway Run May 6 Academy Award-winning actress Mercedes Ruehl and Emmy and Tony nominee Larry Bryggman star in the world premiere of Edward Albee's Occupant, which begins previews May 6 at the Signature Theatre's home at The Peter Norton Space.
Mercedes Ruehl
Mercedes Ruehl

Directed by Pam MacKinnon, the production will officially open June 5. The initial eight-week run sold out in three days, one month before performances were scheduled to begin. The one-week extension (with all tickets $65 for that week) takes the run to July 6.

This production, at the end of a 2007-08 season devoted to the works of Charles Mee, is a "Legacy Production" by Signature as part of its "Premiere Series," which presents new work by former Playwrights-in-Residence.

According to Signature, "Edward Albee's Occupant is a portrait of acclaimed sculptor Louise Nevelson and a quest to capture a charismatic and complex artist and persona. What is the relationship between creator and creation? Who was Louise Nevelson? Only she knew."

Sets are designed by Christine Jones with costumes by Jane Greenwood and lights by David Lander.

Director MacKinnon directed Off-Broadway's recent Peter and Jerry by Albee. Ruehl has appeared on Broadway in Edward Albee's The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? (Drama Desk Award, Tony Award nomination). Her other stage credits include The Marriage of Bette and Boo (OBIE Award), Lost in Yonkers (Tony Award), the one-woman play Woman Before a Glass (OBIE Award), and Viva la Vida! (Bay Street Theatre). Her many film credits include "The Fisher King" (Academy Award, Golden Globe Award), "Married to the Mob," "Big," "Last Action Hero," "What's Cookin'," "More Dogs Than Bones," "Another You," "Heartburn," "The Warriors," "Four Friends," "Radio Days," "84 Charing Cross Road," "Leader of the Band," "The Secret of My Success," "Slaves of New York" and "Crazy People."

Albee was born on March 12, 1928, and began writing plays 30 years later. His plays include The Zoo Story (1958), The Death of Bessie Smith (1959), The Sandbox (1959), The American Dream (1960), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1961-62, Tony Award), Tiny Alice (1964), A Delicate Balance (1966, Pulitzer Prize; 1996, Tony Award), All Over (1971), Seascape (1974, Pulitzer Prize), Listening (1975), Counting the Ways (1975), The Lady from Dubuque (1977-78), The Man Who Had Three Arms (1981), Finding the Sun (1982), Marriage Play (1986-87), Three Tall Women (1991, Pulitzer Prize), Fragments (1993), The Play About the Baby (1997), The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? (2000, 2002 Tony Award), Occupant (2001), Peter and Jerry (Act 1, Homelife; Act 2, The Zoo Story) (2004), and Me, Myself and I (2007).

In 2002, Anne Bancroft played the first week of Signature's Occupant previews starting Feb. 5, but fell ill with pneumonia. Standby Kathleen Butler went on for two weeks before the run was shut down Feb. 22 to wait for Bancroft's recovery. The production was reconstituted with Bancroft in March, when she played performances March 21-April 7. The short run was sold out; critics were not invited.

The two-hander is in an interview format in which sculptor Nevelson recounts her adventurous bohemian life in art, as an interviewer (Neal Huff in 2002) tries to separate fact from fiction. Anthony Page directed in 2002.

The title is inspired by the fact that the artist once insisted that her hospital room door be labeled "occupant" rather the "Louise Nevelson."

The Peter Norton Space is located in Manhattan at 555 West 42nd Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues.

For more information on Signature visit signaturetheatre.org.

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