The new Michael John LaChiusa musical, Marie Christine; Spalding Gray's solo-show Morning, Noon and Night; the Susan Stroman and John Weidman dance play, Contact; and A.R. Gurney's Ancestral Voices will all be featured in Lincoln Center Theatre's fall season.
The season will kick off with a bang, when one of the most highly anticipated new musicals, Marie Christine, begins previews Oct. 28 for a Dec. 2 opening at the Vivian Beaumont Broadway space. The production reunites LaChiusa with director choreographer Graciela Daniele; the two previously collaborated on Hello Again at Lincoln Center. Three-time Tony winner Audra McDonald will star in Marie. According to Charles Koppelman, LaChiusa's agent, the lead role was written with McDonald in mind. Though McDonald has been a star in the New York theatre world for some time now, this will represent her first time she has been asked to carry a Broadway musical on her own. Mary Testa (On the Town) and Darius de Haas (The Running Man) will also be featured in the production.
Set in the late 1800s in New Orleans and Chicago, Marie Christine is the tragic story of a passionate young Southern woman and her all consuming love for an ambitious sea captain.
Performing at the Vivian Beaumont during Marie's off-nights will be Spalding Gray's latest solo piece, Morning, Noon and Night on Sunday and Monday evenings, beginning Oct. 31. Morning, Noon And Night covers a day in the Long Island life of Gray and features tales of his family: Kathie, Marissa, Forrest and Theo. In the storytelling tradition of Joyce's "Ulysses," the monologue covers the events of one day in Gray's life while he searches for meaning and substance in its traditional structure.
Gray started as an actor in Richard Schechner's Performance Group in the late '60s, appearing as Hoss in the company's controversial revival of Sam Shepard's Tooth of Crime. In the late '70s, an off-shoot company was formed by Elizabeth LeCompte and other members of The Performance Group, entitled The Wooster Group. Gray went along with LeCompte, and together the two worked with Gray's natural storytelling technique to create numerous pieces, including Sex and Death to the Age 14. After completing their Rhode Island Trilogy, Gray began to tour his solo pieces away from the group's influence, going on to do such shows as Swimming to Cambodia, Gray's Anatomy, Monster in a Box, and It's a Slippery Slope. Gray's Anatomy, Cambodia and Monster have all been made into feature films, starring Gray.
Taking over the Mitzi Newhouse Theatre, Lincoln Center Theatre's Off-Broadway space, will be Susan Stroman and John Weidman when they premiere their Contact (billed as a "Dance Play") beginning previews Sept. 9 for an Oct. 7 opening.
Stroman, while preparing Madison Square Garden's A Christmas Carol in November 1998, first told Playbill On-Line she would be directing and choreographing the musical-dance piece with the neo-swing pop outfit, The Squirrel Nut Zippers and librettist John Weidman (Assassins, Wiseguys).
Boyd Gaines (Cabaret) will star in the production, playing a man on the brink of committing suicide when he meets a dancer in a swing club. The play's title comes from the man ability to finally make "contact" with others through dance.
Along with music from The Zippers, the show will feature a compilation by such classic composers as Berlioz, Grieg and Tchaikovsky.
Stroman burst onto the scene several years ago when she choreographed the Kander and Ebb revue And the World Goes Round . She went on to choreograph Crazy for You (Tony Award) and Show Boat.
Playing on Contact's dark nights at the Newhouse will be the return of staged readings of A.R. Gurney's latest, Ancestral Voices, beginning Sunday, Sept. 19. Voices recently closed (June 7) an extended engagement at the Newhouse. Dan Sullivan, who directed Gurney's Far East, will helm the readings which, like Gurney's Love Letters, will feature a rotating cast, to be announced.
In Voices, five actors sit on stage and read the script (making it easy to have changing casts) about a family whose lives are turned inside out when young Eddie's grandmother unexpectedly divorces his grandfather to marry the grandfather's best friend.
Tickets for any of Lincoln Center Theatre's shows are available through Tele Charge at (212) 239-6200.