How I Learned To Drive has been zooming through the 1996-97 awards season. Paula Vogel's Lucille Lortel-winning drama, which closed at the Vineyard Theatre April 13 to make way for Nicky Silver's My Marriage To Ernest Borgnine, reopened May 6 at the Century Theatre on East 15th St. The reopening coincided with Drive winning the 1997 New York Drama Critics Circle Award as Best Play.
Other honors include the Daryl Roth Creative Spirit Award, given May 13 to Drive's director, Mark Brokaw, and four Lucille Lortel Awards, including Best Play. The Outer Critics Circle also chose Drive for Best Play (Off-Broadway category), while Encore Magazine's "Taking Off Awards" honored director Brokaw.
At the May 12 NYDCC ceremony, Vogel credited her collaborators and those at the Vineyard Theatre for being "fearless" about what could have been a difficult subject, the sexual underpinnings of a young girl's relationship with her alcoholic uncle. She especially credited director Mark Brokaw for mining the play's "human pyrotechnics."
The Vineyard Theatre apparently feels the same way. They've just awarded their second annual, "Daryl Roth Creative Spirit Award" to Brokaw, which comes with a cash prize of $3,500. Sponsored by the theatre and producer Daryl Roth, the honor goes to "a gifted theatre artist for outstanding work." The award also provides Brokaw with a year-long residency at the Vineyard to develop new work. (The first Creative Spirit Award went to director Michael Mayer in 1996.) Brokaw has also taken home a Lucille Lortel and Encore Magazine's "Taking Off" Award for his work on the Vogel play.
The cast of Drive at the Century Center is the same as at the Vineyard: stars Mary-Louise Parker and David Morse, supported by Johanna Day, Kerry O'Malley and Michael Showalter. Daryl Roth, Roy Gabay and Vineyard Theatre are producing the commercial run of the show, which opened March 16 and won Lortel Awards for best play, actor and actress, as well as director (Mark Brokaw). The latter staged Off- Broadway's This Is Our Youth and The Good Times Are Killing Me.
In Drive, Parker plays a young woman who comes of age in the 1960s-70s and receives driving lessons from her uncle (Morse), "lessons which extend well beyond the rules of the road." The actress' stage appearances include Prelude To A Kiss and Four Dogs And A Bone. Morse starred in Redwood Curtain at Seattle Rep and The Wild Duck at Los Angeles Theatre Center. Also in the Drive cast are Kerry O'Malley, Johanna Day and Michael Showalter (of MTV's "The State"). Designers include Narelle Sissons (sets), Jess Goldstein (costumes), Mark McCullough (lighting) and David Van Tieghem (sound).
Other Vogel works include The Mineola Twins, Desdemona and And Baby Makes Seven. Her next theatre project is a stage adaptation of The War Of The Worlds for Anne Bogart's Saratoga International Theatre Institute, scheduled to premiere at Minneapolis' Walker Museum in 1997-98. Paula Vogel fans might want to check out Playbill On-Line's April interview with the playwright, "Paula Vogel: How She Keeps Driving."
The Vineyard, on East 15th St., opened its season with Lisa Loomer's The Waiting Room and will continue after Drive with a world premiere of Silver's My Marriage To Ernest Borgnine, directed by David Warren; and the new musical, You Don't Miss The Water.
For tickets ($25-$45) and information on How I Learned To Drive, call (212) 239-6200.
--By David Lefkowitz