Before she comes to Broadway in the spring with The Gin Game, Julie Harris will spend a month at the Long Wharf playing Miss Helen in Athol Fugard's drama, The Road To Mecca, beginning previews Jan. 7. The 5-time, Tony-winning actress will be joined by Linda Purl and Tom Aldredge.
The Road To Mecca takes place in 1974 in South Africa, where Miss Helen sculpts and turns her home into a neighborhood showplace -- much to the consternation of her neighbors. When the local minister Marius (Aldredge) wants to remove her from her home, a sophisticated young teacher (Purl) arrives to help Miss Helen in her predicament.
Based on a true story, Mecca premiered at Yale Rep in 1984 and then had productions at London's National Theatre and Spoleto. In 1988, the show played Off-Broadway at the Promenade Theatre.
Though Athol Fugard has never won a Tony Award, he is considered one of the world's great living playwrights (A Lesson From Aloes, Sizwe Banze Is Dead, `Master Harold'...And The Boys, Boesman And Lena, Valley Song.).
Harris has appeared at Long Wharf in Under The Ilex and Is He Still Dead?. She made her Broadway debut in It's A Gift (1945) and is best known for playing Frankie in The Member Of The Wedding and Emily Dickinson in The Belle Of Amherst (1977). She won a Tony for the latter, as well as for I Am A Camera, The Lark, Forty Carats, and The Last Of Mrs. Lincoln. Purl, best known for her television work, won a 1991 Connecticut Critics Circle Award for Long Wharf's production of The Baby Dance. She worked with Harris at the Berkshire Theatre Festival on Tusitula.
John Tillinger directs Mecca. His most recent Broadway assignments have been Inherit The Wind with George C. Scott, and Arthur Miller's Broken Glass.
James Noone designed the sets for Mecca, Jess Goldstein the costumes, Dennis Parichy the lighting.
The Road To Mecca opens Jan. 15 and runs to Feb. 9 at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven. For tickets and more information,please refer to theDavid Lefkowitz