The Goodman Theater of Chicago has opened it 2001-02 season In the Owen Bruner Goodman Theatre space with Charles L. Mee's widely produced Big Love, giving the popular play its first Chicago mounting. Les Waters directs this darkly comic battle of the sexes, which began Oct. 19 and runs through Nov. 18, opening Oct. 29.
Mee's Humana Festival 2000 hit Big Love is a reinterpretation of Aeschylus' The Suppliant Women performed on a wrestling mat. In this ancient tale, fifty women are engaged to fifty brothers without their consent. They run away to Italy, but when finally tracked down by the grooms, each vows to give a wedding night their husbands will never forget.
The play will debut in New York City at the Brooklyn Academy of Music later this fall. Off-Broadway recently saw his First Love at New York Theatre Workshop.
As previously reported, Lydia R. Diamond's Gift Horse is the final addition to the Goodman Theatre 2001-02 season. The play will run at the company's smaller Owen Theatre Feb. 1-March 3, 2000. Opening is Feb. 11. Chuck Smith directs. Chicago dramatist Diamond won the Theodore Ward Playwright Award for Gift Horse. The story concerns Ruth, an African-American woman, who takes the audience from her college days "when her direction in life was set," to the present day. The work is said to be about "finding your right place in life, and the right person — or persons — to live there with you."
No cast has been set. Smith is a Goodman resident director.
The Goodman recently inaugurated its Albert stage season with John Kander, Fred Ebb and Terrence McNally's musicalization of Friedrich Duerrenmatt's The Visit. Chita Rivera starred as the vengeful Claire Zachannassian, and John McMartin was he former lover Claire comes to destroy, under Frank Galati's direction. Ann Reinking choreographed.
Galati told Playbill On-Line April 6 that Broadway is still the goal for the musical, though the creators have recently played the New York ambitions down. The show has no immediate future at this point.
The musical and the Goodman were first linked last fall, and in December 2000 producer Barry Brown confirmed to Playbill On-Line that he was exploring a tryout at the Windy City nonprofit. Brown had announced the musical for the 2000-2001 Broadway season, but star Angela Lansbury backed out for family reasons. Librettist McNally, composer Kander and lyricist Ebb wrote the show with Lansbury in mind.
As for the rest of the Albert season, following a new version of A Christmas Carol, staged by Henry Godinez from an adaptation by Tom Creamer (Nov. 17-Dec. 22), comes Regina Taylor's Drowning Crow. The play was previously set to play the Goodman's smaller stage April 27 May 27 but was then rescheduled for the bigger Albert Ivar space for early next year, Jan. 6-Feb. 10, 2002, officially opening Jan. 14, 2002. "As Drowning Crow has taken shape," said Goodman artistic director Robert Falls in a statement, "we realized that the larger stage and the greater technical resources of the Albert theatre would enable us to more fully realize the vision of Regina."
Crow is Taylor's new adaptation of The Seagull. The actress playwright has relocated the drama to the historic Gullah Islands off the coast of modern-day South Carolina. The family is now African-American and Konstantin is a performance artist.
Following Drowning will be a much-anticipated revival of Long Day's Journey Into Night staged by Robert Falls and starring Death of a Salesman Tony winner, Brian Dennehy. Performances begin Feb. 22 for an opening March 4 and a run through April 6, 2002. Eugene O'Neill's classic drama tells of a miserly actor, his drug addled wife, drunken older son and tubercular younger one. Stewing in their misery, they occupy a fogbound summer house in New England. The roles of Mary Tyrone and the two Tyrone sons have not yet been filled.
Lighter fare arrives April 19-May 26, 2002 (opening April 26) via Amy Freed's The Beard of Avon, which recently received a staging at CA's South Coast Rep. Ever since Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare, pundits have asked, "Did Shakespeare really write Shakespeare?" Could a boy from the provinces turned-London actor really produce the greatest plays in the English language? Or was he really a noble too embarrassed to be thought of as associating with common theatrical folk? Freed contemplates these possibilities in her latest, which will be staged by David Petrarca (who directed Marvin's Room).
Closing the mainstage season will be a new look at the life of scientist Galileo, courtesy of composer Philip Glass, director Mary Zimmerman and librettist Arnold Weinstein. Galileo, Galilei, running June 14-July 28, 2002 (opening June 24, 2002) is billed as "an Opera in Twelve Scenes" and promises to be a more physical and more performance-art-like work than Brecht's well-known play on the same subject. Zimmerman recently finished staging the NYSF's lighthearted Measure for Measure in Central Park, and currently has a hit at Second Stage with Metamorpheses. Glass' latest collaboration, with JoAnne Akalaitis on In the Penal Colony, played at Off-Broadway's CSC last spring.
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—By Robert Simonson