Goodman Theatre Announces Cast of Ayckbourn's House and Garden; Begins Jan. 26

News   Goodman Theatre Announces Cast of Ayckbourn's House and Garden; Begins Jan. 26 A collection of Chicago actors will be featured in the Goodman Theatre's upcoming presentation of British playwright Alan Ayckbourn's House and Garden. The two related plays, mounted in the Goodman's Albert Ivar and Owen Bruner theatres, and directed by Robert Falls, will begin performances on Jan. 26 and officially open Feb. 5.

A collection of Chicago actors will be featured in the Goodman Theatre's upcoming presentation of British playwright Alan Ayckbourn's House and Garden. The two related plays, mounted in the Goodman's Albert Ivar and Owen Bruner theatres, and directed by Robert Falls, will begin performances on Jan. 26 and officially open Feb. 5.

Ayckbourn's unorthodox duet of plays was a hit at the Royal National Theatre in London. House and Garden, which were both written and directed by Ayckbourn, debuted at his Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough last year. They can be watched in either order or, indeed, as stand-alone pieces, though it's recommended that both are seen as they present different perspectives on a single day. They are set in the house and garden (as the titles would suggest) of the Platt estate on the day of the annual village fete.

Up at the house (in House), Teddy Platt, host of the fete and lord of the manor, has high hopes of a career as the new local MP. His long-suffering wife Trish wants nothing to do with him and his best friend has just sniffed out the identity of Teddy's latest mistress. Meanwhile, down in the garden (in Garden), frenzied party preparations are underway. Pregnant questions surround a semi-famous French celebrity, a sinister someone lurking in the bushes, and the fortune teller's tent.

The large cast is heading by Joel Hatch at Teddy Platt. Hatch appeared in Ragtime at Chicago's Oriental Theatre. Liesel Matthews, who appeared in the Goodman's One Flea Spare, stars as Sally Platt. Also in the cast are: Donald Brearley, who recently acted in Booth with Austin Pendleton at the Writers' Theatre; Christina Carrera; William Dick, who played Dean Strauss in Rebecca Gilman's Spinning Into Butter; Susan Hart; B.J. Jones, who is the artistic director of the Northlight Theatre; Rebecca Jordan; Maia Madison; Susan Osborne-Mott; Barbara Robertson; Joe Sikora; Natalie West; and Ray Wild.

Performances last until March 4. Tickets for House are $29 to $45; Garden, $16 to $37. The Goodman is located at 170 N. Dearborn Street. Call (312) 443-3800.

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When the curtain went up on August Wilson's King Hedley II in Chicago on Nov. 30, it also rose on the Goodman Theatre's new Albert Ivar Goodman Theatre space. The long-standing Windy City theatre made the first step toward that great day on Oct. 31, when the Wilson drama began rehearsals. The play officially opened Dec. 11 and will run through Jan. 13, 2001.

Hedley began L.A. performances Sept. 2 with an opening Sept. 14. Marion McClinton directs the drama. Following the Chicago run will be a stop at Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center, opening March 1, and then Broadway, with previews beginning at the Virginia Theatre on March 31, 2001, for an April 16 opening.

Continuing his decade-by-decade examination of African American life in the United States, Wilson sets King Hedley II in 1985 in the black ghetto of Pittsburgh and deals with the triumphs and trials of a community torn apart. King Hedley rages against his past and present and his pregnant wife, Tonya, fears to bring a child into their world. A two time Pulitzer Prize-winner, Wilson also wrote Fences, The Piano Lesson and Seven Guitars. Set design is by David Gallo, costumes by Toni-Leslie James, lighting by Donald Holder and sound design by Rob Milburn.

Significant changes were made to the cast of Wilson’s new drama in its progression from Pittsburgh to Huntington, MA, to Los Angeles, to Chicago, to DC and Broadway in the spring. Though Charles Brown, Lou Myers, Monte Russell remain with the show, some major roles have new players, including Tony-winner Leslie Uggams signing on as Ruby, and “Law & Order” first-season castmember, Richard Brooks, as the title character.

Harry Lennix had played Hedley in Los Angeles for all but the final week, when Jerome Butler came into the role. Juanita Jennings played the role now essayed by Uggams, whose Broadway credits include Jerry’s Girls, Blues in the Night and her Tony-winning turn in Hallelujah, Baby!. Yvette Ganier plays Tonya, replacing Mone Walton.

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The Goodman complex, the theatre's first new facility since 1925, is located on Dearborn Street between Randolph and Lake. The spot is the historic site of the Garrick and Woods theatres and the landmark Harris and Selwyn theatres. When work began, it was expected the two-theatre venue would cost $44 million, with the City of Chicago supplying $18.8 million to the project through its tax increment financing.

A two-week long festival celebrating the opening of the theatre began on Nov. 4. It ended with a round-the-clock party on Nov. 18. The Inaugural Gala was on Nov. 11. Bernadette Peters provided entertainment.

The Albert Ivar Goodman Theatre is a tradition proscenium stage, slightly largely than the current mainstage, and equipped with a full fly tower and improved acoustics. The Owen Butler Goodman Theatre, meanwhile, has a timber-frame construction (with exposed fir beams) and can take any number of forms, including end stage, thrust, arena and runway.

Both theatres are fully soundproofed, to shield performances from the noise of the rumbling elevated trains of the Loop area.

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The 2000-2001 Goodman schedule now runs as follows:

The Albert Ivar Goodman Theatre:

• As previously reported, the season got underway with August Wilson's latest, King Hedley II, a sequel of sorts to Seven Guitars, which will fill the Albert Ivar Goodman Theatre, Nov. 30-Jan. 6, 2001 (opening Dec. 11).

House by Alan Ayckbourn, directed by Robert Falls, Jan. 19-Feb. 24, 2001 (opening Jan. 29).

• James Baldwin's The Amen Corner, March 16-April 21 (opening March 26). Chuck Smith directs the 1954 work about Sister Margaret Alexander, who risks losing her Harlem church and her son when her vagabond, jazz musician husband returns home.

Wit by Margaret Edson, directed by Steve Scott, May 11-June 16 (opening May 21).

The Great Baseball Strike of 1994 by Rebecca Gilman, director TBA, June 29-Aug. 4 (July 9).

The Owen Bruner Goodman Theatre:

Garden by Alan Ayckbourn, directed by Robert Falls, Jan. 19-Feb. 24, 2001 (opening Jan. 29).

• Chekhov won't know what hit him when Regina Taylor's new adaptation of The Seagull premieres, April 27-May 27 (opening May 7). Actress-playwright Taylor 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. No director has been named.

—By Robert Simonson