John Patrick Shanley's caustic divorce comedy, Where's My Money? ends its scheduled run at Manhattan Theatre Club Jan. 13, clearing MTC's Stage II for Christopher Shinn's Four.
The Shanley play was embraced in its summer 2001 Off Broadway run by LAByrinth Theatre Company and was invited to fill in a spot in the MTC season. It opened there, with some rewrites by the playwright, Nov, 7, 2001.
The new comedy, under the direction of the Academy Award- winning author (who also helmed at LAByrinth), began previews at MTC's Stage II Oct. 16. The dark-humored piece about two smalltime Brooklyn divorce lawyers and the women in their lives feature holdovers from the summer staging: David Deblinger, Yetta Gottesman, Florencia Lozano, Chris McGarry and Paula Pizzi, with newcomer Eric Laray Harvey (who took the role created by John Ortiz last summer).
Four, another play that had a summer run downtown (by Worth Street Theatre Company) and has been invited to MTC, begins previews at Stage II Jan. 29.
* In Where's My Money?, Harvey and Deblinger play two self-assured divorce attorneys possessed of rather aggressive and skewed attitudes toward their own marriages. Both were cuckolded by their first wives and are a little guarded, to say the least, concerning their current spouses. Harvey's character's wife, meanwhile, has her own problems — the ghost of an old boyfriend. He reappears to demand repayment of the money she once borrowed from him to buy the wedding dress she used to marry her hubby. Another ghost haunts Deblinger, who is poring through "Crime and Punishment." Knives, guns and joint checking accounts all play their part in the production, which, as was the case this summer, will make good use of the actors' lungs.
Shanley told Playbill On-Line, in an interview on Nov. 2, that the play has much altered since its LAByrinth production. The comedy's scenes still number five, but where in the summer mounting the story's two ghosts disappeared into the background by the time the denouement rolled around, they now both rise with a vengeance during the final scene. Also, a white enamel alligator pen has become a key item in the plot and "the punch line for the entire show."
Shanley, married and divorced twice, knows his subject matter well. The playwright said he wrote much of Where's My Money? while going through his recent, second divorce. Once the play was up on its feet at the LAByrinth, he invited his lawyers to take a look. "They actually loved it—they were a little horrified," Shanley laughed.
Shanley was recently represented Off-Broadway directing his own play, Cellini, at Second Stage. His other plays include Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, Italian-American Reconciliation, Beggars in the House of Plenty, Psychopathia Sexualis, Savage in Limbo and Four Dogs and a Bone, among others. He won the Oscar for penning the screenplay to "Moonstruck."
His Playbill bio reads: "John Patrick Shanley is from the Bronx. He was thrown out of St. Helena's kindergarten. He was banned from St. Anthony's hot lunch program for life. He was expelled from Cardinal Spellman High School. He was placed on academic probation by New York University and instructed to appear before a tribunal if he wished to return. When asked why he had been treated in this way by all these institutions, he burst into tears and said he had no idea. Then he went in the United States Marine Corps. He did fine. He's still doing okay. Mr. Shanley is interested in your comments on this play. Please send your impressions to email@example.com."
Designers are Michelle Malavet (set), Mimi O'Donnell (costume), Sarah Sidman (lighting) and Eric DeArmon (sound).
The extended LAByrinth staging began previews at the Center Stage space Off-Broadway June 19 and wrapped up July 29.
Where's My Money? tickets are $45. MTC's Stage II is located at City Center, 131 W. 55th Street in Manhattan. For tickets, call (212) 581-1212. Visit www.ManhattanTheatreClub.com.
— By Kenneth Jones
and Robert Simonson