I didn't have time to read the script until after we'd announced four of the five plays for our current season," said Empty Space artistic director, Eddie Levi Lee. "Then I was stunned by its poetry, its beauty and its power."
Lee's praise is for Morning Glories, a French-Canadian drama by Michel Garneau that ends its run Jan. 31 at Seattle's Empty Space theatre. Previews began Jan. 2 for an opening Jan. 7.
Garneau, a two-time winner of the Governor General of Canada's Prize for literature, is a songwriter, poet and author of more than 50 plays. He's also translated several Shakespeare dramas into French. Linda Gaboriau has translated Morning Glories into English. The 1994 drama (French title: "Heliotropes") premiered at Theatre du Rideau Vert in Montreal.
Here's the odd premise: what if Calamity Jane and Scott Joplin met in a turn-of-the-century brothel? The madam has dismissed most of her staff, but not the mute ragtime pianist. Joplin is drawn into the establishment when he hears his own songs being played. Not surprisingly, Joplin's black skin leads to varied reactions among the brothel's personnel.
Empty Space associate director Rod Pilloud directs Morning Glories, which features Lauren Tewes (yes, from TV's "The Love Boat") as the madam. Also in the cast are Valcruz Shakiri, Christina Shinkle, Charlee Williams, Jennifer Ferguson, Julie Gustafson and Mali Martino. Designing the show are Charlene Hall (set), Kira Knight (costumes) and Michael Wellborn (lighting). Also on tap for Empty Space's 28th season are Dario Fo's Accidental Death of An Anarchist, Feb. 18-Mar. 21; John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, Apr. 8-May 10; and Reduced Shakespeare Company's The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged), May 20-June 27.
The Empty Space Theatre is located at 3509 Fremont Ave. N., Seattle, WA. For tickets ($14-$24), call (206) 547-7500.
-- By David Lefkowitz