Tony nominee Keith Carradine (The Will Rogers Follies) led the Feb. 26 reading of Robert Emmet Sherwood's The Petrified Forest at the Roundabout's American Airlines Theatre. The 1935 drama was a part of the company's Friends of Roundabout Playreading Series.
The Petrified Forest takes place in an out-of-the-way gas station and diner in the Arizona desert. While their grandfather — who actually owns the property — wishes to stay, both Jason Maple and his daughter Gabrielle want to move on - he to Los Angeles and she to France where her mother lives. The arrival of Alan Squier, a poet and novelist unable to produce, brings young Gabby to love and a life-changing decision, one the writer can make real by offering himself as the ultimate sacrifice. The 1936 film version of The Petrified Forest starred Leslie Howard as Squier, Bette Davis as Gabby and Humphrey Bogart in his first breakout role as the gangster Duke Mantee.
A member of the Algonquin Roundtable, Sherwood won four Pulitzer Prizes and an Academy Award for 1946's "The Best Years of Our Lives." Abe Lincoln in Illinois is perhaps his best known theatre work, although he also penned There Shall Be No Night, The Road to Rome and Idiot's Delight. In 1938, alongside Maxwell Anderson and Elmer Rice, he formed the Playwrights' Company, which became a major producing entity.
Joining Carradine were The Last of the Thortons' Mason Adams (Gramps Maple), David Adkins, Les Miserables' Leo Burmester (Jason), Cheyenne Casebier (Gabrielle "Gabby" Maple), Dylan Chalfy (Boze Hertzlinger), Cobb's Michael Cullen, The Lion in Winter's Roger Howarth (Duke Mantee), wait Until Dark's Ray Iannicelli (Jackie Cooper), Chicago's Lisa Leguillou (Paula), Waiting in the Wing's Michae McKenzie (Mr. Chisholm), Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk's Chris McKinney (Joseph), Jonathan Earl Peck (Pyles), the Iceman Cometh's Joseph Ragno (Ruby), Joe Turner's Come and Gone's Raynor Scheine (Herb), Edward Tully and 1980 Tony Award nominee for Nuts Anne Twomey. Michael Bakkensen read the stage directions.
Josie Abady directed. Former artistic director of Circle in the Square, Cleveland Playhouse and the Berkshire Theater Festival, she received a Tony nomination for The Rose Tattoo. Other Broadway credits include Born Yesterday with Madeline Kahn and Ed Asner and Bus Stop with Mary Louise Parker and Billy Crudup. Roundabout readings do not guarantee a future production. The Petrified Forest was the first reading to which the Roundabout invited their new Hiptix members. Hiptix is a discount ticket program allowing young adults up to age 35 to purchase reduced admission to certain performances at both the American Airlines Theatre and the Gramercy Theatre.
— By Christine Ehren