For its third offering of the 2000-2001 Mainstage season, Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company will mount a new stage version of Charles Dickens' classic novel, David Copperfield. Giles Havergal has penned the adaptation and will also direct. The show began previews on Feb. 1 and opens Feb. 11 for a run through March 25.
One of Dickens' most popular works (and reportedly the novelist's personal favorite), David Copperfield tells the story of the title waif, who is tossed from misfortune to misfortune in Victorian England before finding happiness. The book contains some of Dickens' best known creations, including Mr. Micawber, the jolly nurse Peggoty, the egotistical Steerforth and the evil Uriah Heep.
Several Steppenwolf ensemble members grace the cast, including Robert Breuler as Mr. Wickfield, Mariann Mayberry as Mrs. Copperfield, Rondi Reed as Mrs. Micawber, Molly Regan as Betsey Trotwood, Rick Snyder as Dan Peggoty and Jim True-Frost as David Copperfield. Troy West plays Mr. Micawber and Maureen Gallagher as Peggoty, while Krista Lally fills the part of Dora and Jay Whittaker plays Uriah Heep.
Snyder and Mayberry will also be featured in Steppenwolf's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, set to begin rehearsals on March 6 and open on Broadway March 16. As a result, they will leave the run of David Copperfield half-way through. Their replacements have not been selected.
Havergal has been the director of the Citizens' Theatre in Glasgow for the last 31 years. His work is best known in America from his hit adaptation of Graham Greene's Travels with my Aunt, which played successful engagements in Glasgow, London's West End, before reaching Off- Broadway's Minetta Lane Theatre. Jim Dale and Brian Murray were featured in the last production. * Steppenwolf opened its 2000-2001 season with its first foray into musical theatre, The Ballad of Little Jo, directed by Tina Landau. Reviews were mixed, but there are plans to restage the work in 2001 for a New York run. After that, came Irish playwright Conor McPherson's eerie The Weir, which ran until Jan. 20.
Coming up is Michael Healey's The Drawer Boy, while tells of Miles, a young actor who retires to the country to write a play, moving in with two bachelor farmer brothers, played by Mahoney and Galati. When Miles includes one of their stories in his drama, the farmers' lives are suddenly unsettled. The production will occasion Galati's first acting work in some time. Known as the director of large scale productions such as The Grapes of Wrath and Ragtime, Galati spent much of the 70s and 80s in his home base of Chicago, alternating between directing and acting assignments. Mahoney is well known to television audiences from the sitcom "Frasier." Drawer Boy will run April 12-June 10, 2001 (opening April 22).
Martha Plimpton, who has appeared in several productions at Steppenwolf over the past couple seasons, including The Playboy of the Western World, will play the title role in Hedda Gabler. Douglas Hughes will direct the production, which will run June 28-Aug. 19, 2001 (opening July 8).
Tickets for the season range $125-$175. Steppenwolf is located at 1650 N. Halsted St. in Chicago. For information, call (312) 335-1888.
— By Robert Simonson