Perhaps the most acclaimed play of the NY season, Wit, reopens at a larger theatre, Dec. 18. Manhattan Class Company's (MCC) acclaimed staging, directed by Derek Anson Jones, transfers to the Union Square Theatre for an open run with the same cast. The show has its official reopening Jan. 7, 1999.
The drama had finished its run at MCC Dec. 13 after opening there Sept. 17. Wit became one of the biggest hits of the season and was long searching for a bigger venue. Producers had been eyeing a Broadway run, specifically at the Helen Hayes Theatre, but those chances fell through in November, reportedly because the Hayes' owner thought a play about a cancer patient would have limited commercial appeal. Margaret Edson's tragic but verbally nimble drama is about an icy but verbally nimble poetry professor stricken with fourth-stage ovarian cancer.
The show, initially supposed to run to Oct. 4, was first extended at the MCC to Oct. 24, then Nov. 22, and finally Jan. 3 -- later pulled back to Dec. 13 when the move was confirmed (by the office of Patrick Harold, director Jones' agent).
According to the Boneau/Bryan Brown press office, Wit has become MCC's biggest success.
Kathleen Chalfant, best known for her Tony-nominated performance as Hannah Pitt in the Broadway production of Angels in America, stars as Vivian. Also in the Long Wharf cast are Walter Charles, Aleta Mitchell, Raul Perez, Alec Phoenix, Paula Pizzi, Daniel Sarnelli, Alli Steinberg and Helen Stenborg. Wit is Edson's first play, based in part on her experiences working at the AIDS Inpatient Unit of the National Institutes of Health. Today Edson teaches first grade in Washington, DC.
-- By Robert Simonson and David Lefkowitz