Cleveland Play House will stage a resident production of the work March 3-26, 2006, concurrent with the first weeks of the Broadway production.
Cleveland Play House's new artistic director Michael Bloom will stage the Ohio production, in which an actress will play Lisa Kron, who narrates her own meta-theatrical comic play.
On Broadway, Kron will play herself and Leigh Silverman will stage the play, starting March 10, 2006, at the Longacre Theatre. Jayne Houdyshell plays Kron's mom, Ann, who goes off script and threatens to sabotage Lisa's play.
Bloom told Playbill.com that he read the play and fell in love with it. Part of his pitch to Kron's agent was that the unconventional work would not likely tour to Cleveland in the future and that a limited resident not-for-profit production wouldn't threaten business for the future commercial producers.
Cleveland Play House's Well was announced prior to the official Sept. 27 confirmation of the Broadway run. The Broadway staging opens March 30, four days after the closing of the separate Cleveland run. "I couldn't think of a play better suited to Cleveland — The Cleveland Clinic is practically next door," Bloom said. "For Cleveland the issues of wellness and community are really potent. This is the first play I read when I got here and halfway though it I said, 'We have to do this.'"
Like critics and audiences before him, Bloom embraced the play's "unusual, stylized" quality "that is actually accessible to a mainstream audience."
Bloom will use Case Western University MFA acting students for ensemble roles. In the script, they are "hired" by Lisa to help tell the story.
Bloom said he will be using the most recent version of the script, the one seen in February 2005 at American Conservatory Theatre (which also featured Kron and Houdyshell under Silverman's direction; all three were part of the 2004 premiere at The Public Theater, too).
Bloom said he's looking forward to conversations with Kron. The Ohio run will mark the first time an actress other than Lisa Kron has played the role of "Lisa Kron," and will be a valuable test to see how the play works minus the charming performance of Kron and her colleagues.
Well will play Cleveland Play House's Drury Stage. For more information about CPH, one of America's oldest resident theatres, visit www.clevelandplayhouse.com.
Here's how Cleveland Play House bills the play: "A one-act comedy that is equal parts moving, absurd and hilarious, Well tells the story of Lisa Kron's struggle to write a play about, and come to terms with, her mother — and herself. She'd love to tell you all about it, but Mom's right there on stage with her and, of course, chimes in to present the 'correct' version of Lisa's stories. Well is a story about a woman's drive to raise her family and stay sane while struggling to make a difference in the world."
Well got solid reviews, including a love letter from the New York Times, when it played The Public Theater in 2004. A slightly revised version played American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco.
The Public production garnered Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, and Outer Critics Circle nominations and an Obie Award for Houdyshell's heartfelt, hangdog — and humorous — work.