Manhattan Theatre Club Exploring Violet Hour, Rose and Walsh, Drowning Crow for 2003-04

News   Manhattan Theatre Club Exploring Violet Hour, Rose and Walsh, Drowning Crow for 2003-04 MTC, the respected Off-Broadway company that will open a Broadway arm this fall, is exploring Neil Simon's Rose and Walsh, Richard Greenberg's The Violet Hour and Regina Taylor's Drowning Crow for 2003-04, Playbill On-Line has learned.

The season has not been announced, and a spokesman for MTC would not confirm information about a developing 2003-04 slate, which is likely to be the troupe's most high profile yet with the renovation and fall re-opening of the old Biltmore Theatre on Broadway.

The trade publication Theatrical Index reported that Rose and Walsh, a play about aging, death, love and creative legacy — which got encouraging reviews for its current world premiere at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles — would play MTC's Stage II, but if the play does make it to MTC first (rather than via a commercial producer direct to Broadway), it would be more likely for MTC's larger Off-Broadway space, Stage I. Jane Alexander and Len Cariou star in the extended Geffen run, to March 22, in L.A.'s Westwood.

Sources say the New York premieres of The Violet Hour, a play by Take Me Out playwright Greenberg seen in L.A. in 2002, and Taylor's Drowning Crow, a new take on Chekhov's The Seagull, were being aimed for the Biltmore, with a third show expected there as well.

Months ago, a new play by Terrence McNally was mentioned in The New York Times as a possibility for the debut work at the relighted Biltmore, but that may not be the case anymore. Greenberg and McNally both have a production history with MTC.

The nascent third MTC venue, the Biltmore, which is expected to be renamed, will open in the fall. Construction is ongoing. There is talk in the community that MTC will also stage the premiere of Daniel Goldfarb's Sarah Sarah in 2003-04. Goldfarb won the Oppenheimer Award for Adam Baum and the Jew Movie.

If tradition is anything, MTC is also likely to commit to the American premiere of a recent London-seen play. This season, Charlotte Jones' Humble Boy (seen at the Royal National Theatre in fall 2001) will debut MTC's Stage I April 22, under the direction of John Caird.

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Comic actor Mario Cantone was featured in the world premiere of Richard Greenberg's The Violet Hour at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, CA, Nov. 5-24, 2002. The new play, commissioned by the Southern California theatre, inaugurated the company's new space, the Julianne Argyros Stage. Evan Yionoulus (Three Days of Rain, Glimmer, Glimmer and Shine) directed.

The Violet Hour takes place in the small New York City office of John Pace Seavering, a fledgling publisher who, having made it through World War I, is ready to get on with the future. Unfortunately, he can't find his theatre tickets, and his decisions throughout the day will impact the lives of four others: his manic assistant, two budding writers, both of whom want him to publish their work, and his best friend's fiancée.

Hamish Linklater (Good Thing) played Pace with Cantone as his assistant, Gidger. Kate Arrington (Everett Beekin) was the wealthy fiancée Rosamund; Michelle Hurd (Getting Away with Murder) was Jessie Brewster, Pace's lover and the author of an "autobiography"; and Curtis Mark Williams (House and Garden at Manhattan Theatre Club) was Denis, the other scribe, this time of a gigantic novel, and Pace's best friend.

Greenberg has premiered five original works at South Coast Rep — Everett Beekin, Hurrah at Last, Three Days of Rain, Night and Her Stars and The Extra Man, plus an adaptation of The Triumph of Love. His play Eastern Standard and his adaptation of Dance of Death both played Broadway. Take Me Out, a hit for the Public Theater after its world premiere at London's Donmar Warehouse, is currently on Broadway.

Regina Taylor's Carolina-flavored adaptation of Chekhov's The Seagull, titled Drowning Crow, played Jan. 4-Feb. 10, 2002, at the Goodman Theatre's Albert space in Chicago.

Richard Brooks led the cast. Brooks, best known for his stint on "Law and Order," was seen at the Goodman last year in King Hedley II. He was one of the several actors who played the title role in August Wilson's drama before it reached Broadway.

Taylor relocated the Russian drama to the historic Gullah culture of the Sea Islands off the coast of modern-day South Carolina. The family is now African-American and tortured-son Konstantin is a performance artist who calls himself Constantine Trip, or C-Trip.

Kate Whoriskey helmed the show, making her Goodman directing debut. Also in the cast were Lou Ferguson, seen in the Broadway version of Two Trains Running; Suzzanne Douglas, who played Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill at George Street Playhouse; Ebony Jo Ann, seen in Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom on Broadway; and Jason Cornwell, Chester Gregory, Nambi Kelly, Ernest Perry, Jr., Paul Oakley Stovall, Raphael Nash Thompson, Celeste Williams and Shane Williams. Jason Delane played C Trip.

Taylor's plays include Crowns, Oo-Bla-Dee and Millennium Mambo. As an actress, she appeared in TV's "I'll Fly Away," for which she received a Golden Globe Award, Broadway's Romeo and Juliet, Of Broadway's Jar the Floor and The Public Theater's Machinal..

MTC, which operates two Off-Broadway spaces at City Center on 55th Street in Manhattan, sent Proof and The Tale of the Allergist's Wife to Broadway in recent seasons. Allergist's Wife, by Charles Busch and under the direction of MTC artistic director Lynne Meadow, is currently on national tour. David Auburn's Proof won the 2001 Best Play Tony Award and snagged the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Barry Grove is executive director of Manhattan Theatre Club. Visit MTC at www.manhattantheatreclub.org.