Last chance to catch Daniel J. Travanti, best known for playing the captain on TV's "Hill Street Blues," in A Touch of the Poet, Eugene O'Neill's drama of a Southern major clashing with Yankee aristocracy. The show opened Oct. 8 at Washington DC's Arena Stage and ends Nov. 9.
Other Travanti roles include the national tour of I Never Sang For My Father and O'Neill's Poet at MA's American Repertory.
Co-starring in the drama will be Tana Hicken, who has spent 14 years in shows at Arena Stage, and Fiona Gallagher (1996's Ghosts, at Hartford Stage). Other cast members include TJ Edwards, Robertson Carricart, Wendell Wright, Hugh Nees, Kieran O'Hare, Robin Mosely and David Marks.
In Poet, a disheartened Major fights the duel of a lifetime to reclaim his lost dreams. The show travels to the Denver Center Theatre Company after its D.C. engagement.
Outgoing Arena artistic director Douglas Wager was scheduled to direct but instead got a directing gig on TV's "Law & Order." Taking over Poet will be Michael Kahn, artistic director of DC's Shakespeare Theatre. He's staged O'Neill's Beyond The Horizon for PBS TV and Long Day's Journey Into Night at Boston, MA's Shubert Theatre. Designing A Touch Of The Poet are Ming Cho Lee (set), Patricia Zipprodt (costumes), Allen Lee Hughes (lighting) and Timothy M. Thompson (sound). Sarah Felder serves as voice and speech consultant; Brad Waller as fight choreographer.
Also on tap for the Arena season:
Anna Deavere Smith's latest solo, House Arrest, First Edition, begins previews Nov. 7 for a Nov. 19 world premiere. For more information on that show, please see the news story, "Anna Deavere Smith's Arrest Previews Nov. 7 in DC."
Uncle Vanya, Carol Rocamora translates Anton Chekhov's drama, directed by Arena's founding director, Zelda Fichandler. (Dec. 12-Jan. 18, 1998, opens Dec. 17).
A retired professor and his younger wife host friends and relations on their country estate, with numerous romantic triangles developing.
Dimly Perceived Threats To The System, by Jon Klein, directed by Wager (Jan. 23-March 15, 1998 opens Jan. 28).
A "pill-popping, ultra-caffienated domestic comedy about a nuclear family approaching meltdown."
Lovers And Executioners, by a disciple of Montfleury, translated/adapted by John Strand; dir: Kyle Donnelly. (Feb. 27-April 5, 1998, opens Jan. 28, 1998).
Cunning, cross-dressing Julie takes revenge on the husband who abandoned her on a desert island.
You Can't Take It With You, by Moss Hart & George S. Kaufman; Dir: Wager. (April 3-June 7, 1998 opens April 8, 1998).
Wager finishes his Arena years with a classic American comedy, populated by local Washington actors.
Black No More by Syl Jones, Dir: Tazewell Thompson. (May 8-June 7, 1998; Dir: May 13, 1998).
A co-production with MN's Guthrie Theatre, this zany satire is adapted from a 1931 comic novel by African-American writer, George Schuyler. During the Great Depression, a black physician invents the E-race-olator, guaranteed "to turn even the darkest colored man white as a sheet!" Not only does Max use the machine, he tries to marry a Southern belle -- and lead a Klan-like race organization.
After 23 years heading Washington D.C.'s Arena Stage, Douglas C. Wager will leave the company at the end of its 47th season, during which he'll direct three plays. No successor has yet been chosen, though production spokesperson Brook Butterworth told Playbill On-Line a head-hunter has been hired to find a replacement, and they're anticipating a new person in the late fall/early winter.
Wager is leaving because he wants to concentrate on being a director and move away from the administrative side of things. He's worked at MN's Guthrie Theatre this past summer on a production of You Can't Take It With You, with a different cast from the one he'll direct at Arena Stage as his valedictory in April 1998.