The Theatre West revival of Spoon River Anthology, a musical that transferred from the theatre to Broadway back in 1963, is nearly as successful as the original - adding another month and a half to its run. Directed by Betty Garrett and Joyce Van Patten with Lee Meriwether in a featured role, Spoon River Anthology will now play Theatre West through Aug. 4.
Charles Aidman, co-founder of Theatre West, adapted Spoon River Anthology from Edgar Lee Master's famous collection of poems that serve as autobiographical epitaphs for the 244 residents of a rural Illinois town. Dialogue and monologue is interspersed with musical numbers by Emmy nominee Naomi Caryl, including "He's Gone Away," "I Am, I Am," "The Water Is Wide" and "Times Are Gettin' Hard."
At first a beauty queen (she served as a Miss San Francisco, Miss California and Miss America), Meriwether went on to a career in TV and theatre. Although she is remembered for her roles on "Barnaby Jones" and "Mission: Impossible," she has often appeared on stage including the earlier Theatre West Spoon River, Aesop in Central Park with Richard Dreyfuss, Ladies of Hanover Towers with Carroll O'Connor, Follies, A Little Night Music and The King and I with George Chakiris.
Also in the cast are Bridget Hanley ("Here Comes the Bride," "Harper Valley, P.T.A."), Drew Katzman, Jane George, Abbott Alexander and Andy Taylor.
A veteran of 1940's and '50's musical movies, director Garrett most recently performed on Broadway in the Roundabout Theatre's starry Follies. Director Van Patten, sister of TV's Dick Van Patten, is a stage vet whose credits include creating roles in new work by Neil Simon, A.R. Gurney, Jon Robin Baitz and Elaine May. Tickets are $25. Theatre West is located at 3333 Cahuenga Boulevard. For reservations, call (323) 851-7977. Theatre West is on the web at http://www.theatrewest.org.
— By Christine Ehren