Kathleen Chalfant, back in Los Angeles for the first time since Angels in America, will reprise her triumphant performance in Wit when the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama begins performances Jan. 18 for an opening on Jan. 26, in a three-week run at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood. Chalfant garnered almost every award and plaudit for her New York performance in Margaret Edson's drama about an English literature professor suddenly struck down, physically and psychically, by cancer. The show began at Off-Broadway's MCC Theatre, quickly extended and eventually moved to a commercial run at the Union Square Theatre. She was replaced in the role by Judith Light. Lisa Harrow currently plays the part, while Light prepares for a national tour, beginning Feb. 1 in Boston.
In a cruel coincidence, the production's director, Derek Anson Jones, died Jan. 17 of complications from AIDS in New York City. [See separate obituary.]
Joining Chalfant in the Geffen production are original cast members Walter Charles, Alec Phoenix and Paula Pizzi, and new cast members Anne Pitoniak, Christian Anderson, Cheri Smith, Holly Ricciuti and Jose Mercado.
Wit is Edson's first play. Born in Washington, D.C., she has lived in places as diverse as rural Iowa where she was a bartender, and Rome, Italy, where she lived in a convent. She currently teaches kindergarten at Centennial Place Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia. She has stated that she does not intend to write another play.
Geffen Playhouse is located at 10886 Le Conte Ave. in Westwood. For tickets and information call (310) 208-5454 or Ticketmaster.
--By Robert Simonson
and Willard Manus