Culp and Lagerfelt Join Boutsikaris, Williams and Metcalf for A.C.T.'s Quality of Life

News   Culp and Lagerfelt Join Boutsikaris, Williams and Metcalf for A.C.T.'s Quality of Life Jane Anderson's Ovation Award-nominated play The Quality of Life makes its second California appearance with a starry cast starting Oct. 24 at American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.).
Steven Culp
Steven Culp

A 2007 Geffen Playhouse run of the production, directed by the playwright, was nominated for multiple Ovation Awards on Sept. 24.

A trio of stars from that staging returns for the San Francisco run, also directed by the author: two time Obie Award winner Dennis Boutsikaris, Laurie Metcalf ("Desperate Housewives," "Roseanne," Broadway's November) and JoBeth Williams ("Poltergeist," "The Big Chill"), who will be joined by Steven Culp ("Desperate Housewives," A.C.T.'s Blackbird) and Caroline Lagerfelt ("Gossip Girl," A.C.T.'s Mary Stuart).

In an usual casting arrangement, Lagerfelt and Metcalf alternate in the role of Jeannette to allow "both actors to play this dynamic, demanding role while pursuing other professional and family commitments."

"I can't wait to see how Laurie and Caroline, two enormously gifted actresses, put their own unique spin on this wildly complex character," added Anderson. "Although the intent of the script will stay the same, it's going to be a different show every night. That's what makes live theatre so exciting — all the marvelous variables that come with each performance."

Acclaimed playwright Jane Anderson is a multiple Emmy Award–winning film and television writer and director of "The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio" and "Normal." "I'm honored to have such an incredible team of actors as we bring this production to the Bay Area," stated Anderson. "I've done extensive work on the script since its world premiere and having this unique mix of original cast and new members is the optimal way to take this play to its next incarnation."

According to A.C.T., the play addresses "hot-button issues of life and death."

According to production notes, "When a religious Midwestern couple, Bill [Culp] and Dinah [Williams], visit their free-spirited cousin Jeannette (alternately played by Metcalf and Lagerfelt) and her husband, Neil [Boutsikaris], both couples confront loss and survival in the face of explosive circumstance."

The Quality of Life was nominated for four 2007-08 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards and six 2007-08 Los Angeles Ovation Awards.

Produced in association with the Geffen Playhouse and Jonathan Reinis Productions, The Quality of Life plays at A.C.T. through Nov. 23, 2008.

Two press night are being offered so that the alternating actresses are properly exposed: Oct. 29 (with Metcalf) and Nov. 5 (with Lagerfelt).

Anderson sets the play at Jeannette and Neil's makeshift encampment in the Oakland, CA, hills after a fire decimated their home. The couple "must make difficult choices as Neil's cancer takes a turn for the worse, while Bill and Dinah struggle to find solace in their faith after the loss of their daughter."

The Quality of Life "explores our ability to transform and grow through personal tragedy as the two couples from different political and religious backgrounds confront these challenges together with honesty, compassion, and humor."

Anderson stated, "There's a terrible rift in this country between the far right and the far left. One of the things I hope to achieve with The Quality of Life is to help the audience recognize that in the face of this dichotomy of ideals, there's the possibility of finding a common human connection."

Anderson's published plays include Looking for Normal, The Baby Dance, Defying Gravity, Smart Choices for the New Century and Lynette at 3am and The Last Time We Saw Her (both recipients of the Heideman Award). Other works include The Pink Studio and Hotel Oubliette (Susan Smith Blackburn Prize).

She wrote and directed the DreamWorks production of "The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio" starring Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson.

The creative team includes Kent Dorsey (light designer), Donald Eastmen (set designer), Lydia Tanji (costume designer) and Richard Woodbury (sound designer).

For ticket information call (415) 749-2228 or visit the A.C.T. website at www.act-sf.org.

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