For years now, neglected but worthy musicals have received deserved attention through the City Center Encores! series of concert productions. Now, plays will finally get equal time. The City Center people have announced a new play-reading program called City Center Voices!, to be produced by actor Alec Baldwin. Baldwin will also appear in the initial season of works. The inaugural roster will feature three plays: Joseph Kesselring's Arsenic and Old Lace, Nov. 11; Jules Feiffer's Little Murders, Jan. 30, 2001; and Stephen Vincent Benet's The Devil and Daniel Webster, March 13. Baldwin will star in all three readings, while Steve Lawson will direct.
As with the Encores! series, the Voices! readings will feature minimal production values and a cast of recognizable names. "Every time I watch Encores!, I'm carried away by the excitement onstage and in the audience," Baldwin told Variety (Aug. 24). "As an actor, I long to be a part of it, but I don't dance and I don't sing. So I thought: What if we offered audiences plays in a similar format."
Though possessed of a thriving film career, Baldwin has often returned to the stage, appeared on Broadway in A Streetcar Named Desire and Off-Broadway in Macbeth. Baldwin and F. Murray Abraham will star in an Aug. 28 reading of Paddy Chayefsky's The Latent Heterosexual at the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, Long Island. There is no word on whether the play will be included as a future Voices! reading.
--By Robert Simonson