Miracle, by South Africa's de Wet, Gets U.S. Premiere at CT White Barn, July 19-21

News   Miracle, by South Africa's de Wet, Gets U.S. Premiere at CT White Barn, July 19-21 The American premiere of Miracle, by award winning South African playwright Reza de Wet, plays Lucille Lortel's White Barn Theatre in Westport, CT, July 19-21.

The American premiere of Miracle, by award winning South African playwright Reza de Wet, plays Lucille Lortel's White Barn Theatre in Westport, CT, July 19-21.

Joe Ametrano directs the tale set during the Great Depression in 1936. In it, "a lovable, traveling troupe of actors down on their luck and short of money set up a stage in an abandoned church in a small town.  Will they garner an audience for their evening performance with a circus also playing in town? Or will they need a miracle to save them?"

The cast includes Craig Dudley, Sara Croft, Michael Hunsaker, Greta Storace, Ariel Joseph Towne and Fiddle Viracola. Designers are Leo B. Meyer (scenic and lighting) and Tammy Elizabeth McBride (costumes).

he White Barn Theatre, an East Coast institution for 55 years, has four world premieres and one American premiere lined up for its summer 2002 season. The season began July 12 with Joshua Pearl's Courting the Muse, a cabaret musical starring Lillias White. The professional Equity company has remarkably short runs (one weekend each) considering the shows are fully staged and designed. This is the 55th season for the Westport, CT, company.

The theatre was founded in 1947 by the late Off-Broadway producing legend Lucille Lortel, a champion of new voices, experimental works and American premieres of foreign works. She served as artistic director until her death in 1999. de Wet is a South African playwright who has won more major South African theatre and literary awards than any other writer (including Athol Fugard). She was born in a small town (Senekal) in the Free State.  She has worked extensively as an actress, has a master's degree in English literature and currently lectures in the drama department of Rhodes University in Grahamstown. She penned 12 plays in 15 years (five in English and seven in Afrikaans).  She has won nine awards for her scripts (five Vita Awards, three Fleur du Cap Awards and a Dalro Award) as well as every prestigious literary award (a CNA Prize, a Rapport Prize and twice the Herzog Prize) and productions of her plays have won more than 40 theatre awards.

Most recently Yelena won the Vita Award for Best Script (1998-99) while Drie Susters Twee (Three Sisters), was named Best Production for the same year.  In Open Space, an anthology of new African plays, she is the only woman represented and one of two South African dramatists.

She is also the only playwright (South African or other) to have two of her plays run in tandem at the State Theatre.

Performances are 8 PM Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 4 PM Saturdays. Single tickets range $30-$35. Student Rush tickets are $10 with I.D., one-half hour before curtain.

Lucille Lortel's White Barn Theatre is located on Newtown Ave., Westport.  Vincent Curcio is producer.  For information, directions, and tickets, visit whitebarntheatre.org or call the box office at (203) 227-3768.

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A Weekend of Dance plays July 26-28, supervised by two-time Tony Award-winner Donald Saddler. It features dance pieces Get Out of the House by Sarah Skaggs Company, Cotton Club Rhapsody by Mercedes Ellington & Company, and Robocop by Kenichi Ebina of Bridgeport. On Sunday, July 28, a 3 PM seminar with dance luminaries, including Frederic Franklin of Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, is scheduled.

  The world premiere of The Astronaut by Arlette Ricci plays Aug. 2-4, directed by Michael Arabian. It tells of Dimitri, "who had it all until he gave it up for the ultimate trip to the unknown." Playwright Ricci is the granddaughter of Nina Ricci, founder of Parfums Nina Ricci, Paris.

The world premiere of Come a Little Closer, with music and lyrics by John Wallowitch and book/direction by Kimothy Cruse, is set for Aug. 9-11. The cabaret musical "is about life, love, laughter and song for two couples...and a best friend."

Patrick Page's Swansong gets its world premiere, directed by Burry Fredrik, Aug. 16-18. It is "a tale of Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare — life-long rivals and the best of friends." Actor Sam Tsoutsouvas, who made two appearances on the White Barn stage last season in The Colossus of Rhodes and Sad Hotel, plays the role of Jonson.  This is the first play by Page, an actor currently touring in The Lion King and who appeared in Arms and the Man at Long Wharf Theatre last season.

— By Kenneth Jones