Donald Margulies drama, Collected Stories, has the unusual fortune of getting a major Off-Broadway production (at Manhattan Theatre Club, with Maria Tucci) followed by a major revival (at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, with Uta Hagen) only two seasons later. But New York isn't the only city where audiences can see this two-character piece. Seattle's A Contemporary Theatre, which began its season May 8 with Thunder Knocking on the Door, opens Collected Stories July 16 for a run through Aug. 9. Previews began July 10.
Margulies' drama concerns a successful writer and the admiring -- and ambitious -- student who enters, and then co-opts, her life. The show premiered at CA's South Coast Rep. At Seattle's ACT, Kate Goehring stars opposite Linda Stephens' teacher. Stephens, an artist in residence at Atlanta, GA's Actor's Express, starred in Wings and the Roundabout's recent All My Sons revival.
Kyle Donnelly, former associate artistic director of DC's Arena Stage, diretos Stories, which features lighting by Scott Zielinski, costumes by Nan Cibula-Jenkins and sets by Hugh Landwehr.
One day after Stories' opening at ACT's Falls Theatre, Julie Harris begins previews in a new play, Scent of the Roses, by South African playwright Lisette Lecat Ross. This world premiere, starring five-time Tony winner (and ten time nominee) Harris, runs July 17-Aug. 16, opening July 23. Harris will portray Annalise Morant, a South African woman whose children wish her to part with her most cherished possession, a mysterious and valuable painting. The drama unfolds as we discover what special significance the artist and the painting hold for Annalise.
Co-starring in Roses are William Biff McGuire (a veteran of Seattle Rep and a Tony nominee for The Young Man From Atlanta), Bobby Bermea, Kate Forbes, Jessalyn Gilsig (Off-Broadway's Mere Mortals and Gun-Shy), Ntare Mwine, Jay Patterson, Jeanne Paulsen and Kirsten Williamson. Decorating Roses will be Thomas Lynch (set), Martin Pakledinaz (costumes), Peter Allan Kaczorowski (lighting) and John Gromada (sound).
Other plays by Lecat Ross include Moment of Truth and Pluperfect Subjunctives.
Though seen locally as Lettice Dufay in the national tour of Lettice & Lovage, Harris will be making her first appearance with a resident Seattle Theatre Company, a fact that thrills ACT's new artistic director Gordon Edelstein to no end. "She's a national treasure" says Edelstein, "And even though I'd planned on only six plays for the mainstage this year, I couldn't deny myself or ACT's audience such an incredible treat."
Harris' vast resume includes such landmark Broadway roles as Frankie in Member of the Wedding, Sally Bowles in I Am A Camera, Mary Todd in The Last of Mrs. Lincoln, Emily Dickinson in The Belle of Amherst, and even a musical role as Georgina in Skyscraper, the 1965 musical version of Elmer Rice's Dream Girl.
She's especially busy these days, for in October she begins a national tour of The Gin Game in Raleigh-Durham, NC, and in May 1999 she'll star in Winter at Chicago's Victory Gardens Theatre.
Also on the ACT schedule:
Quills: Doug Wright's controversial look at the Marquis de Sade, set in an 1807 insane asylum. "I couldn't decide if [de Sade] was a satiric genius or a toxic pornographer," Wright has said, citing de Sade's "outrageous social commentary and darker primal content." Quills won a Best Play OBIE for the 1995 New York Theatre Workshop production.
Summer Moon: Voice Of The Prairie author John Olive returns with this lyrical drama of one man's quest to bring Japanese cars to America during the post-War years. Other Olive plays include Evelyn And The Polka King and Standing On My Knees. Developed at UT's Sundance Lab and South Coast Rep, the show will be directed by ACT associate artistic director, Leslie Swackhamer.
Violet, a musical by Jeanine Tesori (music) and Brian Crawley (book & lyrics), based on Doris Betts' story, "The Ugliest Pilgrim." Susan H. Schulman, who staged the piece at Playwrights Horizons, will again direct. Violet tells of a young woman, physically scarred in an accident with her father's axe, who sets off on a pilgrimage to find a healer. Along the way she meets two soldiers, one white, one black. Songs in the show include "Lonely Stranger," "Bring Me To Light" and "Down The Mountain."
Death Of A Salesman, Arthur Miller's arguably tragic look at the downfall of an ordinary man whose company no longer needs him. A regular on TV's "ER," lead actor John Aylward's ACT credits include such shows as Glengarry Glen Ross and On The Razzle. He also appeared on Broadway in The Kentucky Cycle.
Founded in 1965 by Gregory A. Falls, ACT dedicates itself to producing new works. Having recently moved downtown, ACT now produces plays on two different stages.
New artistic director Gordon Edelstein, staged The Homecoming on Broadway and the world premiere of Arthur Miller's The Last Yankee. He served as associate artistic director of both New Haven CT's Long Wharf Theatre and MA's Berkshire Theatre Festival.
Said Swackhamer, who served as interim artistic director before Edelstein arrived, "Gordon's work with playwrights such as Donald Margulies, Constance Congdon, Mac Wellman and Joyce Carol Oates shows a level of vision and style that will be invigorating to ACT and to the Seattle community." Swackhamer is now associate artistic director at ACT.
For tickets and information on productions at A Contemporary Theatre on Union Street in Seattle, call (206) 292-7676.
-- By David Lefkowitz