When you were four years old, whom did you have at your birthday party? Mom, dad, perhaps some kindergarten playmates?
Well, MA's Provincetown Playhouse is just starting its fourth season, and to celebrate, the company is holding a "One Night Only" gala. Guests at that party are promised to include Julie Harris and Lee Grant. Not only will those actors be on hand, they'll offer a cabaret evening "of scene and song" alongside other stars. Grant will read from her own "Art at the Edge of the World," and Harris will do excerpts from (what else?) The Belle of Amherst.
Jason Robards and Patricia Neal were also supposed to join the festivities but had to cancel. At Robards' request, Hume Cronyn (The Gin Game) will fill in, reading pieces from Shakespeare. Also added to the roster are Kim Hunter and Lauren Ward (Violet). Ward, currently in the Roundabout's 1776 revival, will sing "He Plays The Violin" from that show. Hunter will read from poetry by Tennessee Williams.
The Provincetown Playhouse benefit will be given not at the theatre's home but in Boston's Shubert Theatre, May 11 at 8 PM. Top tickets are $150 and include a post-performance champagne party; call (617) 267 2524 for more information. Single tickets just for the show ($45-$20, plus a $1 "restoration charge") are on sale via TeleCharge, (800) 447-7400
Harris' recent credits include The Gin Game, Lucifer's Child and a revival of The Glass Menagerie, as well as a regional Road To Mecca. Provincetown was once, thanks to Eugene O'Neill and Tennessee Williams, a major wellspring for American drama. But a 1977 fire scattered the Provincetown Playhouse legacy into basements, barrooms and nightclubs. Now the folks behind Provincetown Rep hope to rebuild the theatre there and recreate "a professional ensemble theatre at the tip of Cape Cod."
Artistic director Ken Hoyt told Playbill On-Line (Apr. 13), "We don't really have a formal connection to the old days. Our group isn't an off-shoot of the Provincetown Players (which started in the `teens). There's been a community theatre operating out here, Provincetown Theatre Company, but they've been on again, off again. So when I started up, I felt there was not a lot of activity out here."
Since they don't have their own space yet, Provincetown Rep has been working out of the local town hall and a gallery space in the Provincetown Museum. "We've leased the land for the new theatre from the Museum," said Hoyt, "but we need to raise $3 million. We have $1 million pledged, but we're not rushing into this. We're trying to proceed as cautiously and well-organized as possible. This benefit is a huge step for us. We need to design a 299-seat space (plus a smaller black box space) that can be managed and supported by the lower Cape. A flexible, contemporary space."
Asked about the Rep's repertory, Hoyt told Playbill On-Line, "The emphasis is on the American Playwright. Plus, you can't be in Provincetown without paying tribute to Mr. O'Neill or Mr. Williams. In our second season, Jose Quintero came out of semi-retirement to direct an evening of O'Neill one Acts, which was the slap on the butt for us to get us going. [How did they get Quintero? "I sent him a letter," replied Hoyt. "That's my job description, I write letters."]
According to Hoyt, this year's season will start with Paula Vogel's The Mineola Twins (July 18-Aug. 7), followed by Marc Wolf's Asking and Telling, a solo about gays in the military (Aug. 13-Aug. 30). Hughie, by Eugene O'Neill (Sept. 10-27) finishes the summer season.
-- By David Lefkowitz