James Sherman's The Old Man's Friend, a new play about the so-called "sandwich generation," with a mother taking care of her both her son and her father, gets its world premiere May 24-July 7 at Victory Gardens Theatre, the Tony Award honored Chicago company.
Sherman is one in a stable of writers long associated with Victory Gardens, a writer-driven troupe. Sherman may best known for the comedy, Beau Jest, which played popularly in Chicago (it remains the biggest hit in Victory Gardens history), regionally and Off-Broadway. The Old Man's Friend is play No. 9 for Sherman at Victory Gardens.
In the new work, Susan Kaufman is working on her career, her marriage and her relationship with her 12-year-old son. When she learns that her father has only been given a short time to live, she reluctantly takes him into her home. Six months later, he's still there.
Veteran Chicago actor Bernie Landis is Len Kaufman, Lily Shaw is daughter Susan. Landis is a veteran of numerous VG world premieres, including James Sherman's The God of Isaac, Beau Jest and Jest a Second!, and most recently, Jeffrey Sweet's hit drama The Action Against Sol Schumann. Shaw recently co-starred in Chicago's long running hit The Vagina Monologues.
The cast also includes Eric Kramer, Larry Neumann, Jr. and Jacob Zachar. The design team is Mary Griswold (set); Frances Maggio (costumes); Joel Moritz (lights); and Andre Pluess and Ben Sussman (sound). Sherman's other plays include Door to Door, The God of Isaac and Jest a Second. Victory Gardens artistic director Dennis Zacek directs.
Playwright Sherman began his professional career as a writer and performer with The Second City in Chicago and received an MFA. degree from Brandeis University. Sherman has been a teacher of playwriting and acting on the faculties of The Second City Training Center, Chicago Dramatists Workshop and Victory Gardens Theater. He has been the recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Ragdale Foundation, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Yaddo. He is a member of The Dramatists Guild, The Writer's Guild, Actors Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA. Sherman lives in Chicago with his wife, actress Linnea Todd, and their sons, Isaac and Avery.
Opening is June 3 on the Victory Gardens Mainstage, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Call the Victory Gardens box office at (773) 871-3000.
— By Kenneth Jones