Peri Gilpin, Shirley Knight and Dan Butler are among the TV and stage stars taking part in The Orphans' Home Cycle, a reading of all nine plays in Horton Foote's epic look at a small Texas town. Presented by The Lost World company at Whittier College (20 minutes outside Los Angeles), the readings are following a one-play-per-month schedule, with the cycle to be completed May 2000.
The readings began Sept. 29 with Roots in a Parched Ground and continued, Oct. 27, with Convicts. The upcoming reading schedule includes:
Nov. 17: Lily Dale, featuring Devon Abner, Joan Chodorow, Chris Mueller, David Paddy, Neil Switzer, Melissa Weber and Carrie Wiener as Lily Dale. Chodorow and Weber both appeared in a West Coast staging of Lily Dale in 1994.
Dec. 8: The Widow Claire
Jan. 26, 2000: Courtship with Peri Gilpin.
Feb. 23, 2000: Valentine's Day
March 29, 2000: 1918
April 26, 2000: Cousins
May 24, 2000: The Death of Papa
Gilpin is best known for her role on television's "Frasier"; Knight appeared on Broadway in Foote's Pulitzer-winning, The Young Man From Atlanta. The Lost World has already staged such Foote plays as Laura Dennis and The Habitation of Dragons, and the company intends to do a full production of a world premiere, The Day Emily Married, in summer 2000.
Author Foote received Academy Awards for Best Screenplay for "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Tender Mercies." Once represented by an entire season at New York's Signature, Foote will contribute The Last of the Thortons, the story of Alberta Thorton, the last surviving member of a powerful clan, to that theatre's 2000 retrospective of the playwrights represented in its last ten seasons.
The Orphans' Cycle centers around Harrison, a small Texas town. With the recent publication of Foote's reminiscences, "Farewell: A Memoir of a Texas Childhood," readers can find a clear view into Wharton, the real small Texas town that helped form the writer once called the "Chekhov of the small town."
For tickets and information on the Orphans' Home Cycle call (562) 907 4203.
-- By David Lefkowitz