Last Chance to catch five-time Tony-winning actress Julie Harris stars in the world premiere of Scent of the Roses by South African playwright Lisette Lecat Ross, ending its scheduled run Aug. 16. The show began previews July 17 and opened July 23 at Seattle's A Contemporary Theatre.
Harris portrays Annalise Morant, a South African woman whose children wish her to part with her most cherished possession, a mysterious and valuable painting. The drama unfolds as we discover what special significance the artist and the painting hold for Annalise.
Co-starring in Roses will be William Biff McGuire (a veteran of Seattle Rep and a Tony nominee for The Young Man From Atlanta), Bobby Bermea, Kate Forbes, Jessalyn Gilsig (Off-Broadway's Mere Mortals and Gun-Shy), Ntare Mwine, Jay Patterson, Jeanne Paulsen and Kirsten Williamson. Decorating Roses will be Thomas Lynch (set), Martin Pakledinaz (costumes), Peter Allan Kaczorowski (lighting) and John Gromada (sound).
Other plays by Lecat Ross include Moment of Truth and Pluperfect Subjunctives. Though seen locally as Lettice Dufay in the national tour of Lettice & Lovage, Harris will be making her first appearance with a resident Seattle Theatre Company, a fact that thrills ACT's new artistic director Gordon Edelstein to no end. "She's a national treasure" says Edelstein, "And even though I'd planned on only six plays for the mainstage this year, I couldn't deny myself or ACT's audience such an incredible treat."
Harris' vast resume includes such landmark Broadway roles as Frankie in Member of the Wedding, Sally Bowles in I Am A Camera, Mary Todd in The Last of Mrs. Lincoln, Emily Dickinson in The Belle of Amherst, and even a musical role as Georgina in Skyscraper, the 1965 musical version of Elmer Rice's Dream Girl. (July 17-Aug. 16) A ten-time Tony nominee, Harris took home five of those awards.
She's especially busy these days, for in October she begins a national tour of The Gin Game in Raleigh-Durham, NC, and in May 1999 she'll star in Winter at Chicago's Victory Gardens Theatre. * Thunder Knocking on the Door, Keith Glover's blues musical about a magical guitar's effect on a poor black family. The drama, which uses the 12-bar blues format even in dialogue, premiered at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Other Glover works include Dancing On Moonlight and Coming Of The Hurricane. ACT had intended to stage Thunder this past season, but postponed when Glover decided to rework the score with composer Keb' Mo', Chris Cain & Michael Butler. (May 8-June 7).
* Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller's Pulitzer-winner will star E.R.'s John Aylward. (A Paper Mill Playhouse mounting this spring will feature Ralph Waite.) Miller is in the middle of a New York renaissance, what with acclaimed revivals of A View From The Bridge and All My Sons at the Roundabout, and a whole season of shows at the Signature Theatre. (May 22-June 21) Salesman is Arthur Miller's arguably tragic look at the downfall of an ordinary man whose company no longer needs him. A regular on TV's "ER," lead actor Aylward's ACT credits include such shows as Glengarry Glen Ross and On The Razzle. He also appeared on Broadway in The Kentucky Cycle.
* Collected Stories, Donald Margulies' drama of a writing teacher and the student who tries to eclipse her. Other plays by Margulies include What's Wrong With This Picture? and The Loman Family Picnic. The show premiered at CA's South Coast Rep and played Off Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club. (July 10-Aug. 9)
* Summer Moon, developed with funding from DC's Kennedy Center, is by John Olive, author of The Voice of the Prairie. Summer Moon (whose title is shortened from "I Clap My Hands/And With The Echoes It Begins To Rise/The Summer Moon," tells of a Japanese survivor of Hiroshima moving to California and partnering with a strong willed Japanese-American woman in trying to bring Japanese cars to America during the post-War years. Other Olive plays include Evelyn And The Polka King and Standing On My Knees. Developed at UT's Sundance Lab and CA's South Coast Rep, Summer Moon will be directed by ACT associate artistic director, Leslie Swackhamer.
* Quills, Doug Wright's controversial Off-Broadway hit about the Marquis de Sade, set in an 1807 insane asylum. "I couldn't decide if [de Sade] was a satiric genius or a toxic pornographer," Wright has said, citing de Sade's "outrageous social commentary and darker primal content." Quills won a Best Play OBIE for the 1995 New York Theatre Workshop production.
* Violet, a musical by Jeanine Tesori (music) and Brian Crawley (book & lyrics), based on Doris Betts' story, "The Ugliest Pilgrim." Susan H. Schulman, who staged the piece at Playwrights Horizons, will again direct. Violet tells of a young woman, physically scarred in an accident with her father's axe, who sets off on a pilgrimage to find a healer. Along the way she meets two soldiers, one white, one black. Songs in the show include "Lonely Stranger," "Bring Me To Light" and "Down The Mountain."
Founded in 1965 by Gregory A. Falls, ACT dedicates itself to producing new works. Having recently moved downtown, ACT now produces plays on two different stages.
Artistic director Edelstein staged The Homecoming on Broadway and the world premiere of Arthur Miller's The Last Yankee. He served as associate artistic director of both New Haven CT's Long Wharf Theatre and MA's Berkshire Theatre Festival.
A Contemporary Theatre is located at 700 Union St., downtown Seattle. For tickets ($29-$45), call (206) 292-7676.