Edward Asner, Rene Auberjonois, Cherry Jones and Harris Yulin will star in a concert-style adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's Don Juan in Hell, running for a limited time at the Stamford Center for the Arts' Rich Forum, May 13-18.
The play is actually the entire third act of Shaw's Man and Superman. In a dream sequence, the hero imagines himself as the legendary Don Juan, and enters into a metaphysical debate with Satan, accompanied by his former lover and her father, the Commander. They are treated so well in the devil's cozy living room, that they argue with Don Juan about what a fool he is to want to move on to heaven.
Broadway veteran Harris Yulin came up with the idea for the "concert" when he listened to a recording by a group called the First Drama Quartet, which formed after Shaw posthumously received the 1951 New York Critic's Circle Award. The original quartet, consisting of Charles Boyer, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Charles Laughton, and Agnes Moorehead, gave voice to the words and characters of Shaw through staged readings.
Yulin will play Don Juan as well as direct. He believes the play should be read because "Shaw's writing has rhythm and form, and people are hungering for theatre of the spoken word. . .which may provoke the imagination in a way the visual (action) may not."
Asner adds that Don Juan is "a relief from what modern theatre has come to represent. We just stand and read, battering those wonderful words and ideas back and forth." Edward Asner, who plays the Commander, received more than three Emmy awards for his portrayal of Lou Grant, a character he originated on the "Mary Tyler Moore Show." He has also worked in plays, films and television films. He will star with Tyne Daly in L.A. Theatre Works newly revived production of Guns, June 4-7, as part of L.A. Theatre Works' "The Play's The Thing" radio play series.
Dianne Weist, who was originally slated to play Don Juan's former lover Dona Ana in this production, has since been replaced by Tony Award winner Cherry Jones. Jones recently completed her critically acclaimed performance in the world premiere of Tina Howe's Pride's Crossing at San Diego's Old Globe.
Tony Award-winning actor Rene Auberjonois is cast as the Devil. He is best known to TV audiences fom T.V's "Benson," and is currently on T.V. in "Star Trek". Auberjonois recently starred in his theatre company, L.A. Classic Theatre Works' production of Macbeth, at the Los Angeles Theatre Center.
Don Juan in Hell is scheduled for eight performances only. For tickets, please call (203) 325-4466, or refer to the Rich Forum regional theatre listing on Playbill On-Line.