Prepare to be star-struck. Los Angeles Theatre Works' winter season for its "The Plays The Thing" Radio Drama Series features a veritable who's who of TV and Hollywood.
"We've lined up a sensational list of plays and a dream cast to go with each," said producing director Susan Albert Loewneberg. "I love knowing that we can bring a large cast extravaganza...to such a wide audience through radio, while letting those who see the performances live view their favorite stars up close."
Theatre Works' Radio Drama Series segments are recorded before a live audience for future broadcast on KCRW, 89.9 FM.
The season began Oct. 22-25 with Jon Robin Baitz's Mizlansky/Zilinsky (soon to be staged at NY's Manhattan Theatre Club with Nathan Lane). Then came Paula Vogel's How I Learned To Drive (Nov. 5-8), Moliere's The Imaginary Invalid (Dec. 1-4) and Richard Nelson's The General From America (Jan.7-10).
Upcoming in the Radio Series:
Jan. 28-31: I Sent A Letter To My Love
Based on a novel by Bernice Rubens, this Jeffrey Sweet/Melissa Manchester chamber musical will star Manchester. It's the story of a lonely man who takes out a personal ad. When he receives no reply, his sister takes pity and makes believe she's a stranger writing back. Naturally, complications ensue. Also in the cast are Meagen Fay and John Hickok (who both appeared in the Off Broadway production of Letter), Stephen Bogardus (Love! Valour! Compassion!, the current national tour of Show Boat). Pat Birch directs.
Author Sweet's other works include American Enterprise and Porch.
Feb. 18-2: A View From The Bridge
Arthur Miller's drama of a lower class Italian family nearly wrecked by papa's jealousy over his daughter's new boyfriend, will star Anthony LaPaglia (The Rose Tattoo), Frances McDormand, Chazz Palminteri (A Bronx Tale) and Marisa Tomei (Slavs!, Waiting For Lefty at CSC in NYC). Interest in this production is especially keen, since LaPaglia now plays Eddie in Bridge on Broadway.
March 4-7: Sheindele
A look at the ultra-Orthodox Hassidic community East of Jerusalem in a play first staged by Israel's Cameri Theatre. Theodore Bikel, who created the role of Baron von Trapp in The Sound of Music, stars alongs Ÿie Kazan (Funny Girl). Says Bikel of the show, "Sheindele is very accurate in its portrayal of the Hasidic community in Israel. Although the plot may appear melodramatic, this is how it really is. It's a world of rigidity upon rigidity..."
"The Play's The Thing," begun in 1990, is produced in association with Santa Monica College's National Public Radio station KCRW. Winner of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's Gold & Silver Awards, the series is devoted "to the discovery and presentation of new plays and new interpretations of classic works." Performers in the 1996-97 season included Ed Asner, Tyne Daly and Dan Butler.
The National Endowment for the Arts recently awarded $100,000 to L.A. Theatre Works to maintain what is the "largest and only library of contemporary American and classic stage plays on audio tape, and to market and distribute the plays on audiocassette and CD throughout the U.S."
L.A. Theatre Works has also launched a project donating tapes to school libraries in underprivileged areas across the country.
For tickets ($24-$27) and information on these 8 PM performances at Doubletree Guest Suites in Santa Monica, call (310) 827-0889, or refer to the L.A. Theatre Works regional listing on Playbill On-Line.
-- By David Lefkowitz