While New York (and soon Los Angeles) theatregoers have Kathleen Chalfant indelibly imprinted on their minds as Dr. Vivian Bearing in Margaret Edson's Wit, Chalfant was not the first to star as the cancer-ridden professor of literature. Megan Cole created the role in the original 1995 production at South Coast Repertory Theatre, helmed by SCR artistic director Martin Benson. The Alley Theatre in Houston, in a co-production with Seattle Repertory Theatre, will reunite both Cole and Benson for its staging of Wit for a run Jan. 14-Feb. 12.
The 1999 Pulitzer Prize winner, Wit tells of a strict college poetry professor brought low -- to humility and humanity -- by her bout with ovarian cancer. Edson, a kindergarten teacher in Atlanta, GA, made her playwriting debut with Wit.
Also in the cast are Jean Bruch as E.M. Ashford, Brian Drillinger as Doctor Jason Posner, Liz McCarthy as Nurse Susie Monahan and Peter Silbert as Doctor Harvey Kelekian and Mr. Bearing.
A special talk back, featuring playwright Edson and Jim Lehrer of PBS' "The News Hour," will discuss the play's effects on society in "The Role of Wit in Culture and Society" Feb. 5. The symposium will start at 5 PM at the Alley Theatre. Tickets are free, but must be reserved by calling (713) 228-8421.
For tickets to Wit ($49-$35), call the Alley box office at (713) 228-8421. The Alley Theatre is located at 615 Texas Avenue.
Wit continues in New York, with Lisa Harrow recently taking over for Judith Light, and L.A.'s Geffen Theatre getting Chalfant in the lead, Jan. 18-Feb. 20.
-- By Christine Ehren