Burstyn Retells Life Stories as Oldest Living Confederate Widow Opens on Broadway, Nov. 17

News   Burstyn Retells Life Stories as Oldest Living Confederate Widow Opens on Broadway, Nov. 17
Ellen Burstyn opens as the title role and sole performer in the Broadway staging of Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All at the Longacre Theatre, Nov. 17.

Ellen Burstyn in Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All
Ellen Burstyn in Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All

The work, which made its world premiere with the actress at San Diego's Globe Theatre earlier this year, began previews Oct. 31. Don Scardino (A Few Good Men) directs.

Martin Tahse's adaptation of the Allan Garganus novel with the same title sets Lucy Marsden, a child bride of a 50-year old Civil War veteran, at a charity benefit at a retirement home. Marsden retells stories from her life, at times imitating the many characters including her husband, his childhood friend, her mother-in-law, servant among others.

"We did a computer count—she's learned over 16,000 words. It's truly amazing," director Scardino revealed to Playbill On-Line. He then laughingly added, "Fortunately, though, she's playing an old lady, so if she forgets [her lines] or goes up, she can go 'What the hell was I saying and go on.'"

Burstyn won a Tony for her turn in Same Time, Next Year and her Oscar for the film "Alice Doesn't Live Her Anymore" — both in the same year (1975). Other stage credits include 84 Charing Cross Road, Shirley Valentine, Shimada, Sacrilege and Fair Game. Her other Oscar nominated roles include "The Last Picture Show," "The Exorcist," "Same Time, Next Year," "Resurrection" and, most recently, for "Requiem for a Dream."

Scardino has directed the Broadway productions of Aaron Sorkin's A Few Good Men and Burstyn in Sacrilege. He has also directed for telelvision and film including CBS's "The Education of Max Bickford," starring Richard Dreyfuss, “Deadline,” “The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd,” starring Blair Brown, Sorkin's "Sports Night” and “The West Wing” as well as episodes of “Ed,” “Law & Order,” and the feature film, "Advice from a Caterpillar," written by Douglas Carter Beane. He is currently developing a musical based on the life and times of John Lennon — now referred to as The Lennon Project. The design team includes Allen Moyer (set), Jane Greenwood (costume), Kenneth Posner (lighting), Peter Fitzgerald (sound) and Wendall K. Harrington (projection).

Elliot Martin, Jane Bergère, Morton Swinsky, Ruth Hendel and Everett King produce Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All for Broadway.

The Garganus novel was also adapted for the small screen in 1994 with Diane Lane and Anne Bancroft playing the title role at different ages (14-61 and 99-100, respectively). Also in the cast were Donald Sutherland, Cicely Tyson, Blythe Danner, Gwen Verdon and Gurganus himself.

For tickets to Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, at the Longacre, 220 West 48th St., call (212) 239-6200 or click here.

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