While the Broadway revival of Into The Woods plays uptown, one of the show's original stars helms A Letter From Ethel Kennedy on 28th Street. Joanna Gleason, Broadway's original Baker's Wife took on directorial duties for the MCC production which opens May 16. The show began performances April 30 for a scheduled run through June 1.
A Letter From Ethel Kennedy, by Christopher Gorman, centers on a man trying to reconcile with his parents over lunches at Joe Allen Restaurant in time to make the 2 o'clock matinee curtain. The comedy stars Anita Gillette, Jay Goede, Stephen Barker Turner, Randy Harrison and Bernie McInerney.
Gillette starred in the original runs of Gypsy, Carnival and Cabaret on Broadway. Goede played in both Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and Angels in America: Perestroika. Stephen Barker Turner recently starred in the Off-Broadway productions of Race and All My Sons and on the big screen in "Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2." Harrison has played at many regional stages before making his screen debut in Showtime's "Queer as Folk." McInerney has been seen on the Great White Way in That Championship Season and revivals of Summer and Smoke and The Rainmaker.
Gleason returns to the New York stage following her recent directorial work on Call Waiting at Los Angeles' Tiffany Theatre. She had also spent her offstage time on screen in the short-lived "Bette" and numerous guest appearances on "The West Wing," "Friends," "The Practice" and "ER." Gleason garnered the Tony Award for her portrayal in Into The Woods.
Gorman, who spent many years as a television executive at CBS, died of AIDS in May 2001. He directed productions of St. Joan and Pray to Mary as well as the live audio version of his short stories — published in the anthology, "From a Burning House: The AIDS Project Los Angeles Writers Workshop Collection" with a cast including Ron Rifkin, David Hyde Pierce and Richard Thomas. The creative team includes Jeff Cowie (sets), Martin Paklidinez (costumes), Michael Chybowski (lights) and Jill B.C. DuBoff (sound). The production also includes original music by David Van Tieghem.
A Letter From Ethel Kennedy — Gorman's playwriting debut — was originally workshopped by Gleason at the Arcade Theatre in Nov. 1998 starring Gillette and Steven Weber. Gorman wrote the play in his time at the Writers Workshop at AIDS Project Los Angeles chronicling his struggle with the disease.
For tickets to A Letter From Ethel Kennedy at MCC, 120 West 28th Street (between Sixth and Seventh Ave.), call (212) 206-1515 or order online at www.smarttix.com. Visit the MCC website at www.mcctheater.com.
— by Ernio Hernandez