Just call it the "vision thing." Keir Dullea played a blind man in Butterflies Are Free. But Brian Friel's drama, Molly Sweeney, opening March 15 in North Carolina, he plays a doctor who restores sight to a young woman.
Best known for playing the space-suited commander Dave Bowman in Stanley Kubrick's film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dullea will make his return to the professional stage March 15 at Playmakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill, N.C., along with co-stars Ray Dooley and Kristin Griffith, Broadway roles for Dullea have included Dr. Cook's Garden and P.S. Your Cat Is Dead, along with the film David and Lisa. Griffith made her Broadway debut in 1976 in A Texas Trilogy and appeared Off-Broadway in Rib Cage, American Garage and 1995's Crocodiles In The Potomac. Dooley has appeared with Playmakers Rep in The Nutcracker: A Play.
Director Susie Fuller, who has worked at Seacoast Rep and the American Stage Festival (and is Dullea's wife), will make her Playmakers debut with the drama. Designing Sweeney are Missy Marquis (sound), M.L. Geiger (lighting), Brian Russman (costumes) and Narelle Sissons (set).
"Friel has an incomparable ability to express joie de vivre in its truest sense," says Kyle Donnelly, artistic associate of Washington's Arena Stage. "[With] the bittersweet love for all of life's ironies, his writing is always a...heartfelt pleasure to behold."
Molly Sweeney's NY production won the 1995-96 Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Play and the 1996 Lucille Lortel and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Off-Broadway Play. Other Friel works include Philadelphia, Here I Come!, Wonderful Tennessee, Making History and Faith Healer. After Molly Sweeney, Playmakers will stage Stephen Sondheim/Hugh Wheeler's A Little Night Music (April 16-May 18), directed by David Hammond.
For tickets ($15-$32) and information on Molly Sweeney, which runs to April 6 at Playmakers Repertory in Chapel Hill, call (919) 962-PLAY.
--By David Lefkowitz