Several leading theatre writers have selected a special work from their respective oeuvres to be presented as part of "Show and Tell," an evening of scenes and songs that will benefit Young Playwrights, Inc. (YPI). The YPI benefit takes place at Laura Belle on April 5 at 6 PM in Manhattan.
Founded by Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim in 1981 for the purpose of assisting children and art, YPI introduces children to theatre and nurtures their self-expression through playwriting. The YPI event is being produced by award-winning playwright and YPI president Alfred Uhry.
Participating in the program are Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, David Henry Hwang, Murray Horwitz, Kenneth Lonergan, Sondheim, Uhry, Wendy Wasserstein and John Weidman. In several cases, their works will be performed by artists (see listings below) who have their own special connection to the piece.
After the songs and scenes are performed, there will be an open forum for discussion of the works and their historic development.
"The writers will discuss their work and why it's a favorite," a YPI spokesperson told Playbill On-Line. "They'll get into what makes it special to them, and it's a great way for the audience to get the inside scoop on how these writers work." The benefit show will include:
• Nathan Lane performing a monologue from Stephen Sondheim's and John Weidman's Assassins; ten years ago, Lane was in the original workshop of the play.
• Lizbeth McKay will perform a monologue from Wendy Wasserstein's Heidi Chronicles.
• Sharon Wilken will sing "Mamma Will Provide" from Once on This Island, written by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty.
• Playwright Kenneth Lonergan's compelling "date scene" from This Is Our Youth will be performed by original cast member Mark Ruffalo with a scene mate still to be named. Lonergan is a YPI alum who won the organization's first national competition in 1982 for the play "The Rennings Children." Later that year, Rennings received a full YPI production of the play which was directed by Marshal W. Mason.
• YPI alum Rebecca Gilman, whose 1984 play Always Open received a YPI workshop production, will be reading an excerpt from Spinning Into Butter with two actors that are still unnamed. Lincoln Center will also present the play later this season (possibly at the Mitzi Newhouse). Chicago's Goodman Theatre premiered the work in June '99.
• Oscar, Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Alfred Uhry will be presenting a scene from his Last Night of Ballyhoo featuring original cast members Paul Rudd and Arija Bareikis.
• Playwright Henry David Hwang wrote F.O.B. as a young playwright and has chosen that work to be presented by YPI because he felt it would be most relevant to the theme of young playwrights. Joel De La Fuente and Rona Figueroa will perform F.O.B. together with a third actor to be announced.
• Lyricist Murray Horwitz sings his own "Dreaming of You," from The Great Gatsby (with composer John Harbison) which opened last fall at the Metropolitan Opera in Washington, D.C. Actors for this segment were not assigned at press time.
Tickets are still available at $75 (students) and $175 (all others). An exclusive after-show dinner with the artists is available for $500 per ticket, but this tier is limited to 30 guests. The "Show and Tell" benefit for YPI takes place at the Laura Belle supper club, located at 120 West 44th Street. For information and tickets call (212) 307-1140.
-- By Murdoch McBride