Lois Smith has signed on to The Roundabout Theatre Company to appear in the American premiere of Brian Friel's Give Me Your Answer, Do! alongside Joey Grey (Cabaret), Kate Burton, Gawn Grainger, Helen Carey, John Glover and Michael Emerson. The production begins previews Sept. 10 for a Sept. 30 opening.
Smith is a longtime member of Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre where she appeared in the award-winning productions Buried Child and Grapes of Wrath -- both productions later transferred to Broadway. Recently, she appeared in Beth Henley's Impossible Marriage, also at the Roundabout.
The play is set in Donegal, Ireland, where novelist Tom Connolly and wife Daisy nervously await the decision of their houseguest as to whether he will purchase Tom's papers for a U.S. college library -- a deal which would offer some compensation for Tom's recent literary paralysis.
Answer, Do! will mark the return to the spotlight of Tony and Academy Award-winner, Joel Grey. Although Grey has recently appeared as Mr. Cellophane in Chicago, he hasn't officially starred in a play since Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart in 1985.
Tony and OBIE winning actor Glover won his awards for playing not one but two roles as twins in both the stage and screen versions of Terrence McNally's Love! Valour! Compassion!. Though Michael Emerson was recently featured in the ensemble of The Iceman Cometh, audiences may be more familiar with him through his performance as the original Oscar Wilde in the long-running OB hit, Gross Indecencies.
Kate Burton stepped in for the final weeks of Beauty Queen of Leenane for Marie Mullen. She also replaced Kate Nelligan in An American Daughter. Burton's other credits include: Company, Jake's Women, Some Americans Abroad (Drama Desk Nomination),Wild Honey, Doonesbury, Alice in Wonderland, and Present Laughter (a role for which she won a Theatre World Award).
Kyle Donnelly, a former Associate Artistic Director of Arena Stage, has been signed to direct. With Answer, The Roundabout continues its relationship with Friel, having previously produced the American premiere of Friel's Molly Sweeney and a revival of Philadelphia, Here I Come!. Other plays by Friel include the 1992 Tony Award-winning best play, Dancing at Lughnasa, Lovers, The Mundy Scheme, The Loves of Cass McGuire, Faith Healer, Aristocrats, Wonderful Tennessee and The Freedom of the City.
The design team for Answer includes Tom Lynch (sets), Martin Pakledinaz (costumes), and Kenneth Posner (lighting).
Along with Give Me Your Answer, Do! and the Broadway revival of The Rainmaker, starring Woody Harrelson, the Roundabout Theatre Company is currently telling subscription members that the following plays are under consideration for their 1999-2000 season:
• The Glimmer Brothers by Warren (Side Man) Leight, directed by Scott Ellis. In Glimmer, Leight, author of this year's Tony Award winning Best Play, returns to the world of music in this poignant family drama. The play tells of Daniel and Martin Glimmer, twin brothers once united in their love of jazz but now long estranged. When Martin lands in the hospital, his godson Jordan and Daniel's daughter Delia try to bring the two brothers back together. Glimmer has a world premiere run at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, July 14-25, in a production starring David Schwimmer (TV's "Friends," "Six Days, Seven Nights," and "The Pallbearer"), Jon Spencer, Terry Beaver and Kim Raver. Leight already has a successful history with the Roundabout. Side Man had been playing at CSC in downtown Manhattan before the Roundabout picked it to fill the space in its season that was to have gone to a Bacharach-David musical revue.
• Desire Under the Elms by Eugene O'Neill, directed by David Leveaux. O'Neill's classic 1920s drama chronicles a New England farm family and their degeneration into adultery and greed. The play was brought up on obscenity charges during its original Broadway run, but the jury found O'Neill innocent. The Tony Award-winning Leveaux recently directed Pinter's Moonlight for The Roundabout, with Broadway credits including: O'Neill's Anna Christie with Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson (Tony Award for Best Revival) and A Moon for the Misbegotten (Tony nomination for Outstanding Direction).
• You Can't Take It With You by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. The Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy was first staged in 1936 and follows an eccentric household where each family member creates his own chaos. The play was later made into an Academy Award-winning film.
• Hotel Suite by Neil Simon, directed by Rob Marshall, is an amalgam of Simon's previous "Suite" plays, combining four one-acts from his California Suite, London Suite, and Plaza Suite. After premiering in London in 1997, the play was produced earlier this year at Philadelphia's Walnut Street Theatre, where it starred Marina Sirtis (of "Star Trek: The Next Generation"). In Philly, Hotel Suite's four scenes, were, in order: Visitors from London from California Suite, about an Oscar nominated English actress and her husband; Visitor from Philadelphia, also from California Suite, about a couple from Philly, one of whom wakes up with a stranger; Diana and Sydney from London Suite, a second look at the English couple of the first scene; and Visitor from Mamaroneck from Plaza Suite, about a bride with pre wedding jitters.
-- By Sean McGrath