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, New Jersey's George Street Playhouse offers a new play at the beginning of the year. Velina Hasu Houston's Waiting for Tadashi, directed by artistic director David Saint (who workshopped the piece at George Street's "Next Stage Series" two years ago), begins Jan. 8, opens Jan. 9 and runs through Feb. 3, 2002. 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 Waiting for Tadashi 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). Other plays include Lemon Sky and Burn This. Alison Gibson plays Sally Talley.
Though her Old Money had little currency at Lincoln Center this year, Wendy Wasserstein still boasts a formidable canon, including 1992's Tony-nominated The Sisters Rosensweig, to be staged by David Saint Feb. 12-March 10, opening Feb. 15, 2002. The play's focal point is Sarah, 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.
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