Richenthal, the producer known for the award-winning Broadway revivals of Death of a Salesman and Long Day's Journey Into Night, is picking up the Playwrights Horizons production of the one-actor Doug Wright play — starring Jefferson Mays playing some 40 characters — following its lauded New York debut at Off-Broadway's PH (where it closed Aug. 3).
The unique I Am My Own Wife defies easy categorization — is it a play? a character study? a theatrical investigation? It got a second extension at Playwrights Horizons following critics' laurels and piqued audience interest.
Jefferson Mays performs more than 40 international characters (including the character of playwright Wright) involved in the world of German transvestite Charlotte Von Mahlsdorf.
The life of late Von Mahlsdorf, who survived the Nazis and the communists, is explored in the new work, with the Wright character increasingly frustrated that Charlotte cannot be easily dramatized or defined. Was she a gentle aesthete and German gay culture doyenne and hostess, or did she collaborate with the communist secret police? Or was she all of the above?
Wright said in a statement: "I Am My Own Wife draws upon several sources: transcribed interviews I conducted with its subject, Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, from our initial meeting in August of 1992 until January 1993; letters we exchanged until her death in 2002; newspaper accounts of her life in the public record; her Stasi file, and my own personal, sometimes selective remembrances of our encounters. I have taken the customary liberties of the dramatist (editing for clarity, condensing several pivotal characters into one utilitarian one, and imagining some scenes I only heard recounted), while inventing others for narrative clarity. While I hope the text does justice to the fundamental truths of Charlotte's singular life and essential character, it is not a definitive biography. It is, rather, a subjective, theatrical portrait." Producers have expressed interest in the show recently for a number of reasons: Because of the names involved, including Quills playwright Wright and Laramie Project creator Kaufman; the rave reviews; and the affordable cast size.
I Am My Own Wife opened at PH's mainstage on West 42nd Street May 27 after previews from May 2. It extended twice to Aug. 3.
The play was developed in regional theatres around the country in developmental situations (a workshop run in Chicago that wasn't meant to be reviewed got raves).
Designers are Derek McLane (scenic), Janice Pytel (costume), David Lander (lighting) and Andre J. Pluess and Ben Sussman (sound).
Tickets are now on sale at Tele-Charge, (212) 239-6200.