As David Hirson's new comedy, Wrong Mountain, awaits its world premiere at San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre, the date has already been announced for its Broadway opening: Dec. 14 at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre. Previews begin Dec. 3, according to a Boneau/Bryan-Brown spokesperson.
Wrong Mountain will premiere at ACT Oct. 21-Nov. 21 (opening Oct. 27), with Richard Jones directing. As of Sept. 15, casting was expected by late September, according to an ACT spokesperson. Theatrical Index reports that Daniel Jenkins (Big), Larry Pine (Bus Stop) and Tom Riis Farrell (1776) will be in the ACT mounting.
In 1991, La Bete, a rare contemporary verse comedy about an acting troupe forced to compromise its artistic integrity, brought playwright Hirson to Broadway. Reviews were generally good but the play, directed by Jones, had difficulty finding an audience. Commercial theatre has heard little from Hirson since, but interest in Wrong Mountain seems to be changing that.
Dodger Endemol Theatrical Productions sponsored a reading in early August 1998 in midtown Manhattan. Among the actors: Tony winners Alan Cumming and Ron Rifkin (both from Cabaret), the aforementioned Larry Pine (Off-Broadway's The Preservation Society) and Joyce Van Patten (Labor Day).
Unlike La Bete, Wrong Mountain is set in modern times and is not in verse. Actor Pine told Playbill On-Line (Aug. 6, 1998), "The play is about an unrecognized poet and his intellectual family. There's also this famous Broadway playwright, who's married to the poet's ex-wife. The playwright bets the poet $100,000 he can't write a play, but the poet does -- and it turns out to be really good." The A.C.T. press release describes The Wrong Mountain thusly: "With touches of surrealism and hints of science fiction (a 40-pound, intestine eating worm and an intoxicating elixir called `lithia water' figure prominently in the plot), the story...concerns an utterly pretentious obscure poet, his ex-wife's new husband, a fabulously successful, lightweight playwright; a new-plays festival situated in the middle of nowhere, and the absolute horror and pleasure of unwanted, yet coveted, overnight success."
Asked in August 1998 about The Wrong Mountain's future prospects, Pine said, "Well, this is the next step. The first readings we did, the play was 178 pages long. Now its 149 pages. I figure once it's in the 110 range... This is honestly the best play I've read since Angels in America."
Also announced for the 1999-00 A.C.T. season are:
The Threepenny Opera, Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's darkly satirical musical, directed by Carey Perloff and choreographed by Luis Perez (Sept. 9-Oct. 10, opening Sept. 15).
A Christmas Carol by Laird Williamson & Dennis Powers, based on Charles Dickens' novella (Dates TBA).
The Invention of Love by Tom Stoppard, directed by Carey Perloff (Jan. 6-Feb. 6, 2000; opens Jan. 12, 2000). Other plays by the Oscar winner (for "Shakespeare in Love") include Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Indian Ink, Travesties and The Real Thing. Perloff recently staged the American premiere of Stoppard's Indian Ink at A.C.T., to essentially sold-out houses. Producers are still discussing that show's future plans.
The House of Mirth written and directed by Giles Havergal (author of Travels With My Aunt), based on Edith Wharton's novel. (March 23-April 23, 2000; opening March 29, 2000).
Edward II -- Mark Lamos directs Christopher Marlowe's look at a king who loses his throne over loving, Gaveston, a man (May 4-June 4, 2000; opens May 10, 2000)
Some-Kind-Of-Wind-In-The-Willows -- world premiere adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's novel by David Gordon, of The Mysteries and What's So Funny? fame.
For information on the A.C.T. season call (415) 749-2250.
-- By David Lefkowitz