Last Chance: Steppenwolf's Beauty Queen Steps Down Aug. 29

News   Last Chance: Steppenwolf's Beauty Queen Steps Down Aug. 29 Martin McDonagh's The Beauty Queen of Leenane will conclude its run at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company Aug. 29, and thus conclude the 1998-99 Steppenwolf season. The production, which initially starred Laurie Metcalf and now stars Rondi Reed, began performances July 8 and opened July 18.

Martin McDonagh's The Beauty Queen of Leenane will conclude its run at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company Aug. 29, and thus conclude the 1998-99 Steppenwolf season. The production, which initially starred Laurie Metcalf and now stars Rondi Reed, began performances July 8 and opened July 18.

Beauty Queen marked the return to the Steppenwolf stage by longtime company member and former "Roseanne" star Metcalf. The Emmy- winning actress played Maureen Folan, the 40-ish, long-suffering daughter of manipulative mother Mag, played by Aideen O'Kelly. Metcalf did not stay with the play for the duration of the run, however. She left after Aug. 7 -- as originally planned -- after which fellow Steppenwolf ensemble member Reed took over the daughter role.

Completing the cast are Rick Snyder as Pato and Christopher Fitzgerald as Ray.

Beauty Queen is actor-director Arney's first directing assignment at Steppenwolf in many years. Arney was artistic director of the troupe from 1987 to 1995. During that time, he brought Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile to the stage. Other directing credits include Bang and Death and the Maiden.

Designing Beauty Queen are Loy Arcenas (sets), Karin Kopischke (costumes), Jim Ingalls (lights) and Richard Woodbury (sound). *

In other Steppenwolf news:

Warren Leight's Side Man and Patrick Marber's Closer -- two of the attractions of the 1998-1999 Broadway season -- have been added to Steppenwolf Theatre Company's 1999-2000 roster. They join the already announced One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Valparaiso and Hysteria.

Leight's autobiographical paean to the lost world of jazz journeyman will open the season, playing Sept. 16-Nov. 7 (opening Sept. 26). Anna D. Shapiro will direct. Longtime ensemble member Rondi Reed will take the Edie Falco role of the long-suffering mother. Side Man won the 1999 Tony award for best play.

Marber's Closer will take the stage Feb. 3-March 26, 2000 (opening Feb. 13), with Abagail Deser directing. Closer's quartet of dysfunctional romantic partners were originally played on Broadway by Natasha Richardson, Anna Friel, Rubert Graves and Ciaran Hinds, under Marber's direction.

As previously reported, Gary Sinise will star as McMurphy and Amy Morton as Nurse Ratched in Dale Wasserman's adaptation of Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, April 6-June 4, 2000 (opening April 16). Terry Kinney will direct.

Sinise and Kinney are co-founders of Steppenwolf. The former was nominated for a 1995 Best Supporting Actor Oscar in "Forrest Gump," and for a Best Director of a Play Tony Award for directing the revival of Sam Shepard's Buried Child (which originated at Steppenwolf). Sinise won acclaim in 1988 when he starred as Tom Joad in the Steppenwolf adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath that won a Tony Award as Best Play when the production transferred to Broadway.

The show will be presented at Steppenwolf by arrangement with Michael Leavitt and Fox Theatricals. As for a possible transfer to Broadway in the 2000-01 season, a production spokesperson told PBOL (March 25), "It's our hope that will happen; Fox Theatricals owns the New York rights, and that's why we're with them."

(A Broadway revival of the play starring Sinise and directed by Joe Mantello had been rumored for over a year, but Mantello is no longer with the production.)

Also in the 1999-2000 season:

Hysteria (Nov. 26,1999-Jan. 22, 2000, opening Dec. 5), Terry Johnson's comedy about Sigmund Freud's last days in England, in 1939, directed by John Malkovich.

Valparaiso (July 6-Aug. 27, 2000, opening July 16), Don DeLillo's exploration of one man's ordinary business trip to Valparaiso, IN., directed by Frank Galati. In Valparaiso, which premiered earlier this year at MA's A.R.T., a man who took the wrong plane to a mysterious destination now finds himself the obsessive focus of interviews and talk shows.

With Valparaiso, world-renowned novelist DeLillo ("White Noise," "Libra" and "Underworld") made his second venture into the theater world. His first play, The Dayroom, premiered at the A.R.T. in 1986. The novel "Libra," about Lee Harvey Oswald, was adapted into a play by Malkovich and produced by Steppenwolf in 1994.