With its New York run just finished, Ancestral Voices will soon be back in the tri-State area, as New Jersey’s George Street Playhouse will host the regional premiere of A.R. Gurney’s play, previews beginning April 29 for an opening May 3 and a run through May 28. Artistic director David Saint will stage the piece, which ended its Off-Broadway premiere at Lincoln Center April 3. As with the New York production, the George Street mounting will use rotating casts each week.
Though dates are still being worked out, among the cast members committed at this point are Frances Sternhagen (The Exact Center of the Universe), Fred Savage (TV’s “The Wonder Years”), Conrad Bain (TV’s “Maude”), Michael Gross (the father in TV’s “Family Ties”), Matthew Fox (Charlie on TV’s “Party of Five”), Jane Powell and Michael Learned (The Sisters Rosensweig) and Ralph Waite (Signature Theatre Company’s The Young Man From Atlanta. Learned & Waite are best known as television’s Ma & Pa Walton.
In Voices, five actors sit on stage and read the script (making it easy for changing casts) about a family whose lives are turned inside out when young Eddie's grandmother unexpectedly divorces his grandfather to marry the grandfather's best friend.
Currently at George Street, comedic actress Nancy Opel, who came to New York attention in David Ives’ Mere Mortals and has since appeared in Triumph of Love and Encores!’ On a Clear Day, You Can See Forever, costars with Merwin Goldsmith and Richmond Hoxie in Joe Orton’s dark farce Loot, March 25-April 23. The production, directed by company associate artistic director Wendy Liscow, officially opened March 29. The loot of the farce's title is a stash of cash acquired in a bank robbery by friends Hal and Dennis. In order to protect himself from a snooping detective, Hal plots the perfect hiding place for his ill-gotten gains -- his mother's coffin.
Author Orton is best known for his farcical comedies, Entertaining Mr. Sloane and What the Butler Saw, and for being murdered in 1967 by his lover at the height of his career.
Joining Goldsmith (Grand Hotel) and Hoxie (I’m Not Rappaport) in Loot at George Street are Christopher O’Brien and Greg McFadden. Designing the show are R. Michael Miller (sets), Robert Jared (lighting), Karen A. Ledger (costumes) and Chris Bailey (sound).
Tickets to both plays are available by calling George Street Playhouse, 9 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, at (732) 246-7717.
Meanwhile, George Street director Saint was recently in Florida keeping another George Street mounting together: Anne Meara’s Down the Garden Paths. The show is eyeing New York hungrily but, owing to a theatre logjam, can’t yet find a Broadway or Off-Broadway house for its transfer. In the interim, the full George Street Playhouse/Long Wharf Theatre cast did the show at Fort Lauderdale’s Parker Playhouse, March 24-26 and Palm Beach’s Royal Poinciana, March 28-April 2. “It’s a waiting game,” George Street spokesperson Gabriel Shanks told Playbill On-Line.
-- By David Lefkowitz