It was only a matter of time before the fast-selling seats for the New York premiere of playwright Rebecca Gilman's The Glory of Living at the 99-seat MCC Theatre garnered the run an extension. The production, helmed by multi-faceted Philip Seymour Hoffman and starring Academy Award winning actress Anna Paquin, was originally scheduled to close Dec. 1. Now, the play, which began performances Oct. 30, and opened Nov. 15, will end Dec. 22 according to press spokesperson Erin Dunn.
Don't let the references to "Full House" character Stephanie Tanner or the title fool you, The Glory of Living is a dark and subtly violent story about abuse, sexual deviance and serial murder. In the work, an already troubled teen falls deeper into a downward spiral as she becomes a child bride to a charmingly sinister man. The play is based in part on a real Alabama murder Gilman had heard about during her senior year of college. The play won Gilman the 1999 London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Most Promising Playwright.
Gilman, who enjoyed two NY productions last season — Spinning Into Butter (Lincoln Center Theater) and Boy Gets Girl (Manhattan Theatre Club) — has also enjoyed two other premieres this year. Her The American in Me made its debut at San Francisco's Magic Theatre and Blue Surge donned the stage at her hometown Chicago's Goodman Theatre.
Canadian-born, New Zealand-bred Paquin, who has been in such films as "Almost Famous," "Hurlyburly," and "X-Men," won her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for the role of Flora in "The Piano" at the age of 11 (nine during filming). This will be the first stage venture by the young thespian, who told Playbill On-Line "They have been so nice about me asking the stupidest questions, like, 'Which way is upstage and which way is downstage?'" adding that after previews she doesn't "feel so much like the foreigner up here [onstage] anymore." [To read the PBOL Paquin feature, visit the Features section.]
The cast also includes Jeffrey Donovan (A View from the Bridge), David Aaron Baker (The Rainmaker), Myk Watford, Erika Rolfsrud, Alicia Couvering, Jenna Lamia, Larry Clarke and Andrew McGinn. The design for Living is by Michelle Malavet (sets), Mimi O'Donnell (costumes), Jim Vermeulen (lights) and David Van Tieghem (sound). The production also features original music by Van Tieghem. Director Hoffman, who last staged the LAByrinth Theatre Company's Jesus Hopped the "A" Train Off-Broadway, has also helmed LAByrinth's production of In Arabia, We'd All Be Kings. Perhaps best known as an actor, Hoffman earned a Tony Award nomination for his portrayal in True West. He has numerous film credits including "Boogie Nights," "Magnolia," "State and Main" and "Almost Famous." (He never shared screentime with Paquin.) He was also seen on stage this summer in the New York Shakespeare Festival production The Seagull alongside John Goodman, Kevin Kline, Natalie Portman, Meryl Streep and Christopher Walken.
Following The Glory of Living, MCC presents Runt of the Litter written and performed by (former Houston Oiler) Bo Eason, Jan. 15-March 10. The show, about a son's dedication to live up to his father's expectations and his own dreams, will be directed by Larry Moss (The Syringa Tree). Then in May 2002, Christopher Gorman's A Letter from Ethel Kennedy will be directed by Tony Award-winning actress Joanna Gleason (Into the Woods). The play explores the relationship between a Manhattan man and his parents, and features Anita Gillette.
For tickets to The Glory of Living at MCC, 120 West 28th Street (between 6th and 7th Ave.), call Smart Tix at (212) 206-1515 or go online at www.smarttix.com. For more information on the MCC Theatre, visit their website at www.mcctheater.com.
— by Ernio Hernandez