Long Wharf Has Serio-Comic Hearts in 2002

News   Long Wharf Has Serio-Comic Hearts in 2002 After the 2001-02 season got off to a rocky start with the loss of artistic director Douglas Hughes and the scuttling of several planned productions, the Long Wharf Theatre of New Haven, CT, has recovered somewhat, naming Hearts to fill its previously-unannounced slot at the C. Newton Schenck Mainstage.

After the 2001-02 season got off to a rocky start with the loss of artistic director Douglas Hughes and the scuttling of several planned productions, the Long Wharf Theatre of New Haven, CT, has recovered somewhat, naming Hearts to fill its previously-unannounced slot at the C. Newton Schenck Mainstage.

Penned by screenwriter Willy Holtzman, Hearts plays March 6-April 7, 2002, with Melia Bensussen directing.

Hearts, nominated for three Barrymore Awards for the Philadephia production at People's Light and Theatre Company, veers between comedy and tragedy as it retells the wartime and post-World War II history of veteran Donald Waldman. Upon returning to St. Louis, he begins to realize even as he has children and grows old, he will always be haunted by his war experiences.

Hearts also played Atlanta's Alliance Theatre in spring 2001.

Holtzman's screen credits include the Emmy-nominated "The Aaron Henry Story," "Blood Brothers" and "Have You Seen the Road Smith?," all of which were broadcast on HBO. The Connecticut resident wrote the stage works Sabina, The Closer, Inside Out and San Antonio Sunset. Bensussen was Barrymore-nominated for Hearts. A Obie winner, she recently directed The Turn of the Screw and Blood Wedding.

For information, call (203) 787-4282. The Long Wharf Theatre is on the web at http://www.longwharf.org.

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The loss of artistic director Hughes caused major restructuring in the company's 2001-02 season. Hughes had been set to direct three pieces in 2001-02: Harry Kondoleon's Play Yourself, Hugh Leonard's Da in a co- production with the Guthrie Theater, and The Miser, which Hughes would have also adapted. His production of Da will not transfer from the Guthrie, nor will he direct Play Yourself or The Miser.

The high profile Cherry Orchard, which was to have starred Kathleen Chalfant and Hughes' father, Barnard, was canceled due to casting losses. Both Chalfant and Hughes dropped out of the project and the other star, David Strathairn, landed a role in the Broadway Dance of Death, beginning Sept. 18.

Replacing The Cherry Orchard is George Bernard Shaw's comedy, Arms and the Man, with Greg Leaming directing. Also added to the season are Kenneth Lonergan's recent Off-Broadway hit The Waverly Gallery, Nov. 14-Dec. 16, to be directed by John Tillinger; Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, May 1-June 9, 2002 directed by David Warren (High Dive, Copacabana); and Conor McPherson's Outer Critics Circle and Olivier Award-winner The Good Thief, Oct. 17 Nov. 25, directed by Carl Forsman.

Hughes, an Obie winner for Tim Blake Nelson's The Grey Zone, has directed Long Wharf productions of She Stoops to Conquer, Playboy of the Western World and The Importance of Being Earnest, as well as Manhattan Theatre Company's An Experiment With an Air Pump, John Guare's Lake Hollywood and Mystery School with Tyne Daly.

Leaming joined the Long Wharf the same year Hughes did, 1997. He recently directed the world premieres of The Third Army, Syncopation and Abstract Expression. In 2001-02, he's slated to helm the world premiere of David Schulner's An Infinite Ache, running Oct. 17-Nov. 18. Before coming to the Long Wharf, Leaming was producing director at Hartford Stage for a year and artistic director of Portland Stage Company from 1992 1996.

Shows planned for the Long Wharf season, unaffected by the staff changes, are Sinan Unel's Off-Broadway hit Pera Palas (Jan. 16-Feb. 17, 2002), An Infinite Ache (Dec. 12-Jan. 20, 2002) and the world premiere of Dael Orlandersmith's Yellowman (April 3-May 12, 2002).

— By Christine Ehren