Lanford Wilson's newest play, Sympathetic Magic, will world premiere at Off Broadway's Second Stage Theatre April 16. Rehearsals began Feb. 18, and previews start March 18 for the limited-run production, which was commissioned by Second Stage. John Lee Beatty will design the set, Dennis Parichy the lighting, Laura Crow the costumes and Chuck London the sound.
Second Stage literary manager Chris Burney, described the play thus: "While studying the universe, the lead character, an astrophysicist, makes a discovery which holds the promise of upsetting all the theories of quantum physics -- changing the way we look at the universe. The eight characters are an eclectic group of brilliant thinkers, including a social anthropologist, an Episcopalian priest, a sculptress. The play questions relationships in a world of uncertainty and changing realities."
"Wilson has finished the script," said Burney, "but we expect changes throughout rehearsals. In fact, there will be major changes between now and beginning of rehearsals." Two readings were done over the past year to help script development.
Wilson veteran and Circle Rep co-founder Marshall W. Mason will direct the show (he directed Virgil this past summer). Together Wilson and Mason have worked on successful Broadway productions such as Burn This, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Talley's Folly, and The Hot L Baltimore.
The last full-length Lanford Wilson play to hit New York City was Redwood Curtain, a commercial disappointment on Broadway that premiered at Seattle Rep in the 1991-92 season. Since then, a double bill of one-acts, Moonshot And Cosmos, played at the now-defunct Circle Repertory Theatre, and Virgil Is Still The Frogboy premiered at Sag Harbor's Bay Street Theatre Aug. 14, 1996 Starring in Magic are former Circle Repertory artistic director and co-founder Tanya Berezin, David Bishins, Herb Foster, Ellen Lancaster, Jeff McCarthy, Dana Millican, Jordan Mott and David Pittu.
Recent Second Stage shows have included Political Animal and a co-production of Sam Shepard's Tooth Of Crime (housed at the Lucille Lortel). Still in casting, Sympathetic Magic was commissioned by the Second Stage Theatre.
In other Second Stage news, fall 1997 has been set as the goal for the company to occupy its new space on 8th Ave. and 43rd St. They'll keep their current space at 2162 Broadway in the hopes of using both spaces simultaneously for productions. "It's a raw space; we're refurbishing an abandoned bank," Burney told Playbill On-Line. "Maybe we'll find some gold bullion."
Together they have worked on successful Broadway productions such as Burn This, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Talley's Folly and The Hot L Baltimore.
For tickets ($40) and information on Sympathetic Magic at the Second Stage Theatre at 76th St., call (212) 873-6103.
--By David Lefkowitz