Credit strong reviews with extending Lark Theatre Company's world premiere of Pera Palas, which traces 70 years of Turkish history through three generations of a family in Istanbul. Sinan Unel's play opened June 11 at Off-Broadway's McGinn/Cazale Theatre and runs there through July 19, extended from June 28.
There has been one sudden cast change. According to the Shirley Herz press office, Ali Poyrazoglu, a well-known Turkish film and TV star, had to fly back home "to complete the filming of a television mini-series." Taking his place -- or places, since Poyrazoglu played both a crabby old woman and a bitter, drunken middle-aged man -- is John Spencer, best known for playing Tommy Mullaney on TV's "L.A. Law." Previous theatre credits include Execuition of Justice on Broadway and Good As New at Off-Broadway's Manhattan Class Company.
Steven Williford directs Pera Palas, set in Istanbul's legendary Pera Palas Hotel, which inspired both Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express and the bar in Casablanca. Starring are Lou Liberatore (Burn This), Evan Pappas (My Favorite Year, I Can Get It For You Wholesale), Betsy Aidem, Maggie Burke, Defne Halman, Tom Lee, Craig Mathers, Annie Meisels and Jennifer Dorr White.
Though it opened only a few weeks ago, Pera Palas has already received an honor: the Daryl Roth Creative Spirit Award, which comes with a $5,000 grant going to the Lark Theatre Company, to help pay for the residencies of playwright Unel and director Williford. The Roth grant was established to help develop "new work at not-for-profit theatres in NYC."
Designing the show are Larry Gruber (set), Mirena Rada (costumes) and Howell Binkley (lighting). James Adler's musical underscoring will be played by Scott Wilson on the oud and saz, traditional Turkish instruments. Born in Turkey, dramatist Unel now lives in the U.S. Previous plays include A Mad Person's Chronicle of a Miserable Marriage and Thalassa My Heart.
For tickets ($35) and information on Pera Palas at Off-Broadway's McGinn/Cazale Theatre, 2162 Broadway, call (212) 221-8466.
-- By David Lefkowitz