Dawn Powell's Walking Down Broadway Kicks Off New Season at Mint Theatre

News   Dawn Powell's Walking Down Broadway Kicks Off New Season at Mint Theatre The Mint Theatre Company will devote its 2005-06 season to neglected plays by American women, and the first such work to be showcased is novelist Dawn Powell’s 1931 work Walking Down Broadway. It will begin previews Sept. 15 and open Sept. 25. Steven Williford will direct.

According to the Mint, Walking Down Broadway was never produced, although Fox bought the rights for director Erich von Stroheim who made it into the movie "Hello, Sister." The play tells of Marge and Elsie, two young girls newly arrived in New York from Marble Falls, Ohio. "They work in an office, live in a rooming house on the upper west side and dream of the romance and glamour that lured them away from home in the first place.  Unable to bear another night alone, they take to walking up and down Broadway where they meet two equally lonely and innocent young men."

Powell herself was from rural Ohio, and she spent her career writing alternately about that area of the country and the urban hubbub of Manhattan, her adoptive home. From the 1920s to the 1960s, Powell produced a steady stream of sharply comic, satirical novels. While she always managed to make a living, she never truly thrived, none of her books making it past an initial printing. Her biggest success was "A Time to Be Born," a thinly disguised portrait of the rise of Clare Booth Luce. Other titles included "Turn, Magic Wheel," "Angels on Toast," "Dance Night" and "This Happy Island."

Her various attempts at playwriting met with failure, the most notorious being a botched Group Theatre production of her Big Night, which was directed by Harold Clurman and starred Stella Adler.

Powell's reputation was resurrected in the '80s, after Gore Vidal wrote an adoring appreciation of her work, calling her "our best comic novelist." In the years following, all of her novels, as well as many short shorts, came back into print. Tim Page also published the first biography of Powell and an edited version of Powell's diaries. Both detailed Powell's loveless childhood, in which she bounced around from relative to relative; a marriage to an alcoholic fellow writer which deteriorated from happiness to an abject stalemate; her battles with her mentally challenged son, JoJo; her many friendships with the literary greats of her day; and her long struggles with money and alcohol.

Walking Down Broadway will feature Christine Albright, Denis Butkus, Antony Hagopian, Carol Halstead, Amanda Jones, Emily Moment, Stacy Parker, Ben Roberts, Cherene Snow, and Sammy Tunis. Scenic design will be by Roger Hanna, costume design by Brenda Turpin, lighting design by Stephen Petrilli and sound design by Jane Shaw. The Mint season will continue will be a reading on Oct. 17 of Edith Wharton's own dramatization of her novel The House of Mirth, and a production of Rachel Crother's comedy Susan and God, plus one other full production and at least one other reading.