Previews began Feb. 11 for director Meryl Friedman's adaptation of Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson, opening Feb. 16 at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank, CA, and running there through April 2. Joshua Wolf Coleman is featured as Pudd'nhead, supported by Vicklyn Reynolds, Kim Leigh Smith, Dwight R. Williams, Tony Stovall, Zaid Farid, Gerald C. Rivers and Gary L. Rowland.
This version of Pudd'nhead Wilson was first commissioned by Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company in 1994 in honor of the novel's hundredth anniversary. The play is adapted from Twain's story, "The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson" which originally ran in seven installments of Century Magazine. The piece tells of a small-town lawyer considered eccentric by his neighbors, even though he's far sharper than they are. He ends up uncovering a plot by a slave to switch her impoverished child with that of its rich white master.
This adaptation features original a capella music score influenced by African-American spirituals, work songs and chants. Other works by Twain include "Huckleberry Finn," "Tom Sawyer" and "The Prince and the Pauper."
Friedman was the producing director of Chicago's Lifeline Theatre for sixteen years prior to assuming leadership of the Falcon Theatre last year. She recently remounted her acclaimed production of Madeleine L' Engle's A Wrinkle in Time for Lincoln Center Institute in New York.
Falcon Theatre is located at 4252 Riverside Drive in Burbank. For tickets and information on Pudd'nhead Wilson call (818) 955-8101. -- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent