Elizabeth Ashley is Callas in American-Bred Toronto Master Class March 24-May 1

News   Elizabeth Ashley is Callas in American-Bred Toronto Master Class March 24-May 1
 
The Northlight Theatre-Columbia Artists Management production of Terrence McNally's Master Class, a fall 1998 hit at Northlight in Skokie, IL., will sing a day later than expected, beginning March 24, at Toronto's Royal Alexandra Theatre.

The Northlight Theatre-Columbia Artists Management production of Terrence McNally's Master Class, a fall 1998 hit at Northlight in Skokie, IL., will sing a day later than expected, beginning March 24, at Toronto's Royal Alexandra Theatre.

A technical problem with the image projector is blamed for the delay, according to a Royal Alex spokesperson. Previews begin March 24, official opening is March 30. Performances continue to May 1.

The north-of-the-border move -- directed by Leonard Foglia instead of Northlight's original director, Peter Amster -- includes the new casting of Elizabeth Ashley as the late-career opera diva, Maria Callas. Foglia staged the Broadway Master Class productions starring Zoe Caldwell, Patti LuPone and Dixie Carter, and the national tour with Faye Dunaway.

(Meanwhile, Chicago actress Carmen Roman, who played the role in 1998 in Skokie and in its mini-tour to the East Coast, is committed to performing at American Theatre Company in Chicago in April.)

Recreating their Chicago-area Master Class performances will be Alexander Kariotis, Jeff Lewis, Melissa LaFrance and Frances Limoncelli. The designers remain Geoffrey Bushor (lights), Joe Cerqua (sound) and Mary Griswold (costumes). Rehearsals began in New York in early March and continued the week of March 15 in Skokie before the company traveled to Ontario's historic Royal Alex.

Master Class -- McNally's theatrical conceit involving Maria Callas rating and berating vocal students at a fictional master class punctuated by theatrical monologues and memories -- was the second most popular production in the history of Northlight. McNally won a Best Play Tony Award for Master Class in 1996.

After the successful Skokie run, Northlight partnered with Columbia Artists Management and shipped the Amster-directed staging out for a brief tour to The DuPont Playhouse Theatre in Wilmington, DE., and Proctors Theatre in Schnectady, NY.

Ashley appeared on Broadway in The Highest Tree, Take Her She’s Mine with Art Carney, Barefoot in the Park with Robert Redford, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Skin of Our Teeth, Caesar and Cleopatra with Rex Harrison and Agnes of God with Geraldine Page and Amanda Plummer.

Among her film credits are "The Carpetbaggers," "Rancho Deluxe" with Jeff Bridges, "Coma" with Michael Douglas, "Paternity" with Burt Reynolds and Todd Solondz’ recent independent picture, "Happiness."

TV viewers know her from the Burt Reynolds sitcom, "Evening Shade."

Director Foglia recently directed Wait Until Dark on Broadway. He is the resident director of off-off Broadway's The Barstow Group in New York. He and Elizabeth Ashley are collaborating on a new play called If Memory Serves.

The 1,400-seat Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto is at 260 King St. West. Tickets are $26.50 (Cdn.) to $76.50 (Cdn.). For information, call the Royal Alexandra Theatre box office at (416) 372-1212 or (800) 461 3333.

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Master Class is the third Northlight production in the 1998-99 season to go on tour after its subscription run. Northlight’s most recent play, the Chicago premiere of Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive, will play Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre March 27-April 25, then City Stage Theatre in Springfield, MA., May 4-16. City Stage is also presenting Northlight’s all-female country hit musical, Cowgirls, in Springfield, MA., through March 28.

-- By Kenneth Jones

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