Ending its regional premiere this weekend is Ancestral Voices A.R. Gurney's comedy-drama at NJ's George Street Playhouse. Previews began April 29 for an official opening May 3 and a run through May 28. Artistic director David Saint staged the piece, which had ended its Off-Broadway premiere at Lincoln Center April 3. As with the New York production, the George Street mounting has been using rotating casts each week.
The fourth and final cast (May 23-28) has been Kelly Bishop and Ma and Pa Walton -- Michael Learned and Ralph Waite -- as well as “The Wonder Years’” Fred Savage.
The first week (April 29-May 7) starred Frances Sternhagen (The Exact Center of the Universe), George Grizzard (A Delicate Balance), Jack Gilpin (The Foreigner), Julie Haggerty (Wifey) and Paul Rudd (Twelfth Night). The second week (May 9-14) featured John Cullum (Shenandoah), Penny Fuller (A New Brain), Tim Daly and his real-life wife, Amy Van Nostrand. Week three (May 16-21) featured Conrad Bain (TV’s “Maude”), Jane Powell, Roger Bart (You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown), James Rebhorn and Karen Valentine (TV’s “Room 222,” Breaking Legs).
In Voices, five actors sit on stage and read the script (making it easy for changing casts) about a family whose lives are turned inside out when young Eddie's grandmother unexpectedly divorces his grandfather to marry the grandfather's best friend.
The play will also be seen at Westport Country Playhouse in CT in July, with Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Scott Wolf and Swoosie Kurtz among the luminaries taking part. *
Tickets to Ancestral Voices are available by calling George Street Playhouse, 9 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, at (732) 246-7717.
Next up at the venue's second-stage space will be the Next Stage new play Festival of readings: 1001 Nights, (May 26-28), Waiting For Tadashi (June 2-4), and Second Chance (June 9-11).
-- By David Lefkowitz