Prepare to be star-struck. Los Angeles Theatre Works' spring season for its "The Plays The Thing" Radio Drama Series feature a veritable who's who of TV and Hollywood.
"We've lined up a sensational list of plays and a dream cast to go with each," said producing director Susan Albert Loewenberg. "I love knowing that we can bring a large cast extravaganza...to such a wide audience through radio, while letting those who see the performances live view their favorite stars up close."
Theatre Works' Radio Drama Series segments are recorded before a live audience for future broadcast on KCRW, 89.9 FM.
After beginning the spring season in March with six comic one-acts by David Ives, A Fair Country arrives Apr. 15-19. Jon Robin Baitz's drama looks at the downfall of a diplomat who trades his honor for security. David Dukes, Judith Ivey, Matt McGrath and George Gaynes star. Both Ivey and McGrath appeared in Country Off-Broadway. (Mary McCormack, of filmdom's Private Parts fame, was previously mentioned but is no longer in the cast.) Dukes appeared on Broadway in Amadeus, Broken Glass and Bent.
Upcoming in the LATW drama series:
Horton Foote's The Young Man From Atlanta runs May 5-9 and features Shirley Knight, who starred opposite Rip Torn in last season's Broadway production of the drama. Charles Durning and Steven Weber also star in this look at an affluent 1950s couple who lose their life savings. Hector Elizondo and Paul Winfield star in Additional Dialogue: An Evening With Dalton Trumbo, May 27-30. Christopher Trumbo conceived this fact-based look at his dad, one of the blacklisted Hollywood Ten.
Richard Riordan -- mayor of Los Angeles -- Martin Jarvis and Douglas Weston star in Thank You, Jeeves, a madcap comedy running June 17-20.
John Duffy's new American opera about Ted Kennedy's C Adick incident arrives July 8-12. Black Water stars Karen Burlingame, Patrick Mason and Stephanie Buckley, and features a libretto by Joyce Carol Oates.
On a lighter note, Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit floats in July 15-18, on the wings of Martin Jarvis, Rosalind Ayres, Judy Geeson, Miriam Margolyes and Christopher Neame.
"The Play's The Thing," begun in 1990, is produced in association with Santa Monica College's National Public Radio station KCRW. Winner of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's Gold & Silver Awards, the series is devoted "to the discovery and presentation of new plays and new interpretations of classic works." Performers in the 1996-97 season included Ed Asner, Tyne Daly and Dan Butler.
The National Endowment for the Arts recently awarded $100,000 to L.A. Theatre Works to maintain what is the "largest and only library of contemporary American and classic stage plays on audio tape, and to market and distribute the plays on audiocassette and CD throughout the U.S."
L.A. Theatre Works has also launched a project donating tapes to school libraries in underprivileged areas across the country. Several of the LATW series' plays have been recorded on cassette and are available for purchase: 800-708-8863.
For tickets ($24-$27) and information on these 8 PM performances at Doubletree Guest Suites in Santa Monica, call (310) 827-0889, or refer to the L.A. Theatre Works regional listing on Playbill On-Line.
-- By David Lefkowitz