Cigarettes and Chocolate, a stage adaptation of the Anthony Minghella radio play, runs through Aug. 9 at the Angel Orensanz Foundation Center for the Arts in New York City.
Minghella, Academy Award winning director of The English Patient and author of its screenplay, was commissioned by the BBC to write Cigarettes and Chocolate in 1988. American Opera Projects managing director Charles Jarden came across the play in a collection of Minghella writings in 1992 and has been working with director Gabrielle Jakobi on the staged production through a series of workshops over the past two and a half years. With the success of The English Patient American Opera Projects stepped up production on the play to capitalize on the notoriety of Minghella.
Set in present day London, Cigarettes and Chocolate follows a young woman's decision to stop speaking and the attempts of her friends to understand why. Her silence serves as a catalyst to their confessions. Jarden told Playbill On-Line, "It's about the relationship between music, silence and noise." Solo music by Bach on the violin has been incorporated into the story. Jarden said, "We've pushed the boundaries of what can happen," and called the play, "very serious, intense and experimental."
American Opera Projects will take the play to Berlin and Vienna as part of an exchange initiated by German director Jakobi. Jakobi directed Winterreise at La Mama E.T.C. in 1994.
Jarden hopes to bring Cigarettes and Chocolate back to New York in the Spring to coincide with Lent, as Bach's Saint Matthew Passion figures prominently in the play. Though Miramax recently purchased the film rights to Cigarettes and Chocolate, Minghella granted American Opera Projects permission to continue their work on the piece. Minghella is scheduled to see the play for the first time Aug. 5.
Kimberly Jardin stars as the silent Gemma, accompanied by Heidi Modr on the violin. David Jacob Ryder plays Gemma's husband Rob. Their friends are played by Paris Kiely, David Usner, Sid Williams and Sally Willig.
Set and costume design is by Roy Spahn with lighting by Andrew Hill and Elizabeth Gaines. Jakob Engel provides musical direction and incidental music.
Tickets are $20, $15 for students and seniors. For reservations call (212) 431-8102.
--By Laura MacDonald