The La Jolla Playhouse will present Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth, starring film actor M. Emmet Walsh, with previews beginning Oct. 12. The production will be artistic director Michael Greif's final assignment as a director there. Sweet Bird's opening is Oct. 17, and the show is scheduled to run through Nov. 14.
Williams' Sweet Bird portrays a complicated pair of lovers, Alexandra del Lago, an aging film goddess, and Chance Wayne, an ambitious young hustler. The drama takes place in a small town on the Gulf Coast, where the characters are forced to confront their histories, their desires and their respective demons.
The cast for Sweet Bird includes Pamela Payton-Wright (Alexandra del Lago), who has performed in over a dozen Broadway productions, including Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie, The Night of the Iguana and A Streetcar Named Desire.
M. Emmett Walsh, who will play Boss Finley, is a ubiquitous film presence whose past Broadway credits include That Championship Season and Does the Tiger Wear a Necktie?. His films include "Blood Simple," "Bladerunner," "A Time to Kill," "My Best Friend's Wedding," "The Jerk" and "Wild, Wild West."
Patrick Wilson (Chance Wayne) was seen by La Jolla audiences as "Chopin" in Harmony in 1997 and has appeared in Miss Saigon, Nicholas Hytner's production of Carousel as Billy Bigelow, and in the New York Theatre Workshop production of Bright Lights Big City, for which he received a Drama Desk nomination. The cast of Sweet Bird also features Susan Denaker, Rosemary Garrison, Patricia Gebhard, Fred Harlow, Don Harvey, Jenni Kirk, Kyle Lemieux, Dohn Norwood, Grandison M. Phelps III, Elizabeth Reaser, Brian Sgambati, Michael Sullivan, Zander Teller and William Youmans.
The two designers for the La Jolla Playhouse production are Mark Wendland and James F. Ingalls. Costumes are by Brandin Baron, and sound/incidental music is by Jeremy Grody.
Anne Hamburger will assume the role of artistic director next season at the La Jolla Playhouse after outgoing artistic director, Michael Greif, has completed the current season. A five-year veteran at La Jolla, Greif is best known as the director of Broadway's Rent. He will leave the nonprofit theatre in Southern California in order to his fulfill his desire to return to the East Coast to be closer to his family and loved ones.
Sweet Bird runs Oct. 12-Nov. 14. Single tickets and subscriptions for the 2000 season are available at La Jolla Playhouse's box office. Call (619) 550-1010 or visiting www.lajollaplayhouse.com.
-- By Murdoch McBride