Weeks ago, when the musical imPERFECT CHEMISTRY [sic] was still trying to take root at the Minetta Lane Theatre, it was revealed that Anne Meara’s new play, Down the Garden Paths, already had a back-up agreement for the venue. Though CHEMISTRY went kaboom Oct. 1, only recently were dates confirmed for the arrival of Meara’s comedy-drama. The show was to start previews Nov. 7 and open Nov. 19, but those dates have now been changed slightly, with the first preview now to commence Nov. 9 and the opening moved to Nov. 20. A spokesperson from the Jeffrey Richards press office told Playbill On-Line (Oct. 20) the play would be in a limited run through Jan. 28, 2001.
After a successful winter mounting at New Jersey's George Street Playhouse, Garden Paths had an equally potent -- and mostly sold out -- run at Connecticut's Long Wharf Theatre. The story of a family gathering to celebrate the latest novel by an award-winning author, Down the Garden Paths is keeping most, but not all, of its regional cast. The previous productions featured an on-film cameo by Meara's real life husband, Jerry Stiller, playing Herschel Strange, a quantum physicist. Stiller and Meara's real-life daughter, Amy Stiller (Sharon Garden/Jodie Garden), is also in the show. And adding further to the show's familial undercurrent are true-life couple Eli Wallach (Sid Garden) and Anne Jackson (Stella Dempsey Garden), joined by their daughter, Roberta Wallach (Claire Shayne/Claire Garden). Supporting cast members included Michael Countryman (Max Garden), Angela Pietropinto (Professor Cramer), John Procaccino (Arthur Garden) and Ann McDonough (Liz Garden).
For the Off-Broadway mounting, John Shea (last Off Broadway in The Director) takes over as Arthur, Adam Grupper (I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change) will play Max and Leslie Lyles is Liz.
Jackson and Wallach have appeared together in such shows as Twice Around the Park and the recent Tennessee Williams Remembered. The younger Wallach received a Drama Desk nomination for playing the hellishly unpleasant daughter in Donald Margulies' The Model Apartment.
Designing The Garden Paths at George Street were Michael Elliott (lighting, replacing Howell Binkley, who was busy at the time on Minnelli on Minnelli), James Youmans (set), Chris Bailey (sound) and David Murin (costumes). All but Elliott are expected to repeat their duties, with Michael Lincoln taking over on lighting. As reported by Theatrical Index and confirmed by the Jeffrey Richards Associates press office, the producing team is Elliott Martin, Max Cooper and Ron Shapiro, with Roy Gabay serving as general manager.
Tickets for Down The Garden Paths will go on sale soon via TicketMaster.
-- By David Lefkowitz
and Christine Ehren