MGM movie queen Jane Powell will lead the cast of Avow, the new comedy-drama by Bill C. Davis, which will begin previews Off-Broadway at the Century Center July 14, for an opening on July 27.
Powell's 20 films include the classic "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and "Royal Wedding" which co-starred Fred Astaire. She made her Broadway debut in 1973 in the musical Irene, and she has toured the country in Marriage-Go-Round, Same Time, Next Year and Chapter Two for which she received a drama-Logue Award.
The comforts and drawbacks of religious Catholicism gave Bill C. Davis material for his Broadway hit, Mass Appeal. He's exploring those themes further with Avow. The theatre's most recent show, Beth Henley's Family Week, closed on April 16 after a brief run. Jack Hofsiss will direct a cast including Eric Stoltz. Rehearsals will begin in May for a June opening. Avow is about the relationship between two gay men, one of whom is a strongly observant Catholic. On the advice of his confessor, one man decides to turn celibate. Meanwhile, his priest is feeling pangs of his own -- for a woman.
Avow played October 1996 at New Jersey's George Street Playhouse, starring Michael Rupert, Rosemary Prinz and Christina Haag. Then, May 1997, the play had a reading at The Directors Company, with Prinz reprising her role as the girl's mother. The priest was played by Stephen Bogardus (High Society, Love! Valour! Compassion!), with other roles played by Fred Burrell, Robert Gomes, Judith Hawking, Angela Pietropinto and Mitchell Riggs. Artistic director Michael Parva directed the reading. That reading lead to a workshop of the show at the Directors Company, June 9-July 3, 1997.
Davis told Playbill On-Line that he was glad to be represented on the New York stage again after a long hiatus. "It feels good. I've been having a life and gotten through various traumas along the way."
Davis has another project on the horizon. His play The Sex King had a reading at Manhattan Theatre Club on May 1. Judd Hirsch starred and Lynne Meadow directed. The play is based on a man Davis knew, an eccentric who ran an escort service in a rural community. In the drama, a local prosecutor tries to prove the protagonist is, in fact, dealing in prostitution. Doug Cramer has optioned the script.
-- By Robert Simonson