Legendary actress Uta Hagen closes the chapter on her Off-Broadway run of Collected Stories Feb. 28, when the Donald Margulies play closes after a six-month stand at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.
Those curious to see the famed actress (of the original Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and countless master classes) can find her and the production, with co-star Lorca Simons, beginning Apr. 3 at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, NJ. After previews, opening is Apr. 7. It continues to May 2.
Making one of her periodic and heralded returns to the stage, Hagen began Collected Stories performances July 28, 1998 toward an Aug. 13, 1998, opening for a run that was intended to go through Oct. 18, then extended until Jan. 3, 1999 -- and then beyond.
Collected Stories concerns an aging writer who is befriended and betrayed by her young protege; the drama delves into issues of mentoring and plagiarism. It was a Pulitzer Prize finalist.
The production is a somewhat unusual one because Margulies' play received its New York premiere only last year at the Manhattan Theatre Club. That staging starred Maria Tucci and Debra Messing under the direction of Lisa Peterson. By Sunday night's close, Collected Stories will have played 19 previews and 213 regular performances.
A hot property with Hagen, Collected Stories was being eyed by such venues as the Kennedy Center and national tour possibilities, but sources say Hagen picked George Street owing to her long-standing friendship with new artistic director David Saint.
"I can personally say that it is a testament to the entire state of New Jersey and its theatre audiences that Ms. Hagen will join us this season," said Saint in a statement.
An "abbreviated rehearsal period" at George Street is expected, according to a spokesman, since the stars and director (William Carden) are the same.
Hagen became interested in the work after appearing in the play in spring 1998 at HB Studios, the Manhattan acting school where she has taught since 1947. That show was directed by William Carden and co-starred Lorca Simons, both of whom repeat their roles at the Lortel. Carden directed Hagen in her last New York appearance, in Nicholas Wright's Mrs. Klein, also at the Lortel. Simons' credits include a year with the national tour of Three Tall Women.
Hagen created the roles of Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Georgie in The Country Girl. She played opposite Paul Robeson and Jose Ferrer in Othello and was Nina in the Lunts' production of The Seagull.
For tickets ($37.50-$49.50) and information on Collected Stories at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher St., call (212) 239-6200. For tickets and information on Collected Stories at the George Street Playhouse, 9 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, call (732) 246-7717.
-- By Kenneth Jones
and David Lefkowitz