Keen Company Season Begins With Wodehouse's Bill

News   Keen Company Season Begins With Wodehouse's Bill
The Keen Company has begun its 2003-04 season with a selection from the troupe's stock in trade: lost or forgotten dramas and comedies. The retrieved work this time around is Good Morning Bill by P.G. Wodehouse. It began performances Sept. 19 and will continue until Oct. 12 at the Connelly Theatre.

To American musical fans, Wodehouse is known for his witty "Jeeves and Wooster" stories and as one of the most successful early librettists of Broadway. He wrote the books to such shows as Oh, Kay! and Anything Goes, as well as lyrics for Rosalie, Sally, Very Good Eddie and the Show Boat song "Bill."

Carl Forsman directs Bill, the tale of "a directionless young man who falls in love with a very serious female doctor." The piece includes the very Wodehousian elements of "sardine sandwiches, a silly song and a golf-obsessed uncle."

In the cast are Jeremiah Wiggins, Heidi Armbruster, Nick Toren, Bridget Ann White, Jenny Mercein and John Venema.

For tickets, call (212) 868-4444.

* The Keen schedule will also include the premiere of a new work by Pulitzer Prize winner David Auburn in 2004. The piece, The Journals of Mihail Sebastian, is adapted from the writings of the title novelist and playwright. Forsman will direct.

Sebastian was a Rumanian novelist and dramatist. His journals, which were published in 1996, told of the shocking history of anti-semitism in the Bucharest of World War II. Despite the country's one-time reputation as a safe place for Jews during the conflict, the book revealed that Romania's wartime government killed 150,000 Jews and imposed employment limitations on others. Sebastian himself was barred from holding certain jobs and had to borrow money to pay his rent.

The play is a one-man show, covering six years in Sebastian's life. It is described as "expressionistic," the journal being "created" over the course of the evening.

This will be Auburn's first new stage work to be presented in New York since the premiere of Jonathan Larson's tick, tick....BOOM!, the book of which Auburn refashioned. Auburn's second major full-length play, Proof, premiered at Manhattan Theatre Club in 2000 and transferred to Broadway. It went on to win nearly every available prize and has been produced throughout the United States and the world. A movie version is in the works.

Following the Auburn work will come another oddity, Pullman Car Hiawatha by Thornton Wilder, the author of Our Town and Skin of Our Teeth. The play is described as a "27-character kaleidoscope portrayed a few moments inside a train car." Keen artistic associate Henry Wishcamper will stage the piece.

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