On Oct. 21, Lanford Wilson's Book of Days will begin the second leg of a journey which may lead to New York. The Marshall Mason-directed production begins performances on that date at CT's Hartford Stage. The show will officially open Oct. 29 for a run through Nov. 20. Book of Days previously played the Repertory of St. Louis Repertory Theatre, Sept. 8-Oct. 8. (The show is a co-production between the Missouri and Connecticut theatres.)
The play follows a local bookkeeper, Ruth, who has been cast as St. Joan in a community theatre production of the Bernard Shaw play, and how she searches to uncover the truth of the local cheese tycoon's death. A cheese factory is the town's major industry.
Book of Days was commissioned by Jeff Daniels' Purple Rose Theatre Company. Retired Detroit Free Press critic Lawrence DeVine nominated the script for the American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, but the play got widely mixed reviews from the major Detroit dailies. It won the ATCA award in March 1999.
As in St. Louis, Dee Hoty will play the flinty, outspoken onetime hippie, Martha Hoch, who, in the world premiere staging by Michigan's Purple Rose Theatre Company in April 1998, swore, chain-smoked and taught at the local Christian college in the small-town Missouri setting.
Other holdovers from the St. Louis cast are Jonathan Hogan (Burn This, Fifth of July), Alan Campbell (Sunset Boulevard), Pamela Dunlap, Shannon Burkett, Jim Haynie, Boris McGiver, Tuck Milligan, Matthew Rauch and Bellamy Young (The Life). (A spokesperson for Footloose told Playbill On-Line Hoty will return to the show in November.) A spokesperson for Wilson at his agency, ICM, told Playbill On-Line earlier in this year that a New York City run was being eyed after Hartford.
Wilson and director Marshall W. Mason have enlisted their Circle Repertory Company colleagues from the old days to create the world of the play: Designers are John Lee Beatty (set), Laura Crow (costumes) and Dennis Parichy (lighting), Chuck London (sound) -- all alums of Burn This and other CRC shows.
-- By Robert Simonson and Ken Jones