Though her Old Money had little currency at Lincoln Center last season, Wendy Wasserstein still boasts a formidable canon, including 1992's Tony-nominated The Sisters Rosensweig, to be staged by David Saint at New Jersey's George Street Playhouse, Feb. 12-March 10, opening Feb. 15.
Barbara Walsh, a Tony nominee for Falsettos and a Broadway veteran of Big and Blood Brothers, will play Pfeni, one of the sisters in Sisters. Susan Clark, of TV's "Webster" fame, plays Sara, the comedy-drama's focal point, while Tony nominee June Gable (Candide) has the showiest role of Gorgeous Teitelbaum (the part played on Broadway by the late Madeline Kahn). Also in the cast are familiar TV and film face Jeffrey Hayenga, Ali Marsh, Robyn Chadwick, Tim Jerome and Wayne Wilcox. The play follows Sara, a middle-aged banking exec who's moved to London and feels distanced from her Brooklyn-Jewish roots. Still, a dalliance with a haimische furrier pulls her back into her background.
George Street artistic director David Saint will stage the Wasserstein play, which features sets by R. Michael Miller, costumes by David Murin, and lighting by Christopher J. Bailey.
In other George Street season news, following a well-received staging of Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill that nearly made it to Off Broadway and a revival of Lanford Wilson's classic, Talley's Folly, the theatre is currently offering Velina Hasu Houston's Waiting for Tadashi, directed by artistic director Saint (who workshopped the piece at George Street's "Next Stage Series" two years ago). Tadashi began previews Jan. 8, opened Jan. 9 and runs through Feb. 3. The tale of a boy born to a Japanese mother and black U.S. serviceman father during World War II. As befits the subject matter, the music will range from jazz to traditional Japanese "Shakuhachi" music, while the style of the play will go from naturalism to the rituals of Noh.
Director Saint (The Spitfire Grill) calls the play "bold" and said in a statement, "...by the plays end, we have really discovered ourselves in the piece. It's fascinating."
A current Japan Foundation Fellow, author Hasu Houston also penned Shedding the Tiger and Tea. Tadashi recently recieved a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
June Angela, whose Broadway credits include Shogun and The King and I stars alongside Takayo Fischer, Clark Jackson (as the title), Danny Johnson, Sue Jin Song, Mia Tagano and former "Cosby Show" cast member Sabrina Le Beauf.
Designing Tadashi are James Youmans (set), Joe Saint (lighting), Theoni V. Aldredge (costumes), and David Van Tiegham (sound), the latter also providing original music for the piece.
For tickets ($28-$45) and information on The Sisters Rosensweig, Waiting for Tadashi and other shows at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, NJ call (732) 246-7717.
A mix of world premieres and proven chestnuts have marked the new season at the George Street. Leading off the season, Oct. 9-Nov 11 (opening Oct. 13) was Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, Lanie Robertson's popular look at tragic blues singer Billie Holiday. Currently, Mark Nelson, whose Off-Broadway roles have included Einstein in Picasso at the Lapin Agile and a wised-up advice-giver in As Bees in Honey Drown, stars in a revival of Lanford Wilson's Pulitzer winning Talley's Folly. The 1980 comedy drama, about a lonely Jewish immigrant wooing a shy and emotionally wounded WASP, is directed by Ted Sod and run Nov. 27-Dec. 23, officially opening Nov. 30. Author Wilson continued following the Talley family in Fifth of July and A Tale Told (later renamed Talley and Son).
Saint has yet to choose the season's fifth show (for the March 19-April 14, 2002 slot), to be staged by Ethan McSweeny, but the sixth and final entry will be a community-based project created by Ain Gordon, Public Ghosts — Private Stories. According to a George Street release, the show "recounts 180 years of African-American, Hispanic, Hungarian and Irish life in the [New Brunswick] community." Michael Rohd and Eric Ruffin co-direct, April 23-May 19, opening April 26, 2002.
— By David Lefkowitz