Actors Jean Stapleton, Hallie Foote and Roberta Maxwell, and playwright Horton Foote and director Michael Wilson, have been a team for the past nine months, shepherding Foote's The Carpetbagger's Children from Houston to Minneapolis to Hartford. That artistic journey culminates on March 25 with the work's official opening at Lincoln Center Theater's Mitzi E. Newhouse, Off-Broadway.
The play, set in the fictional town of Harrison, TX, involves the life of a former Union soldier who settles in the south, as told by his daughters in a series of monologues.
Children was drafted by Lincoln Center Theater to fill the hole left by Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years, which eventually found a new home at the Minetta Lane Theater Off-Broadway (Brown won the Kleban Award for lyrics for the project, it was announced last week). The Foote play began previews March 7 for a run through June 2.
The drama premiered at Houston's Alley Theater, June 1-July 1, 2001. It then kicked off the season at the Guthrie Theatre's Lab space, Aug. 3-Sept. 2. Finally, the show traveled to Hartford Stage in CT, where Wilson is artistic director, for a Sept. 6-23, 2001, run.
In all the mountings, the cast has remained the same. Hallie Foote is, of course, the actress-daughter of the playwright, and Horton's most frequent interpreter. In the past couple of years alone, she appeared in The Last of the Thorntons at Off Broadway's Signature Theatre Company and in her sister Daisy Foote's play, When They Speak of Rita, which was directed by Papa Foote at Primary Stages. Stapleton has spend much of the last few years touring with Rhoda Lerman's solo play about Eleanor Roosevelt, Eleanor: Her Secret Journey. Actress Maxwell starred in the national tour of Lettice and Lovage opposite Julie Harris and won Obies for Ashes and Whistle in the Dark.
Designing the production are Jeff Cowie (set), David Woolard (costumes), Rui Rita (lighting) and John Gromada (sound).
Author Horton Foote won the Pulitzer Prize for The Young Man from Atlanta and two Oscars, for "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Tender Mercies." He was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 1996. Daughter Hallie has performed in several of her father's works, including The Death of Papa and The Last of the Thorntons.
—By Robert Simonson