Rose and Walsh, Neil Simon's exploration of the Lillian Hellman-Dashell Hammett relationship, will have its world premiere June 10-July 20, 2003 at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles.
Playwright Hellman is known for her stage dramas including The Children's Hour and The Little Foxes, as well as her left-wing politics, which left her blacklisted in the 1950's. Hammett is famous for his dectective novels "The Maltese Falcon" and "The Thin Man" (Nick & Nora, the 1991 musical flop, was based on "The Thin Man"'s characters). Hammett was widely believed to have based Nora Charles, wife of the detective hero Nick, on Hellman.
Simon told Variety June 21 that the play takes place in the early 1980's at the end of Hellman's life. A recent reading at the Playhouse featured John Larroquette (the Geffen's Odd Couple) and Lee Grant as Hammett and Hellman with Dinah Manoff and filmdom's Brendan Fraser completing the cast.
No director or casting has been announced for the mid-2003 run.
Rose and Walsh joins a season which also brings Rebecca Gilman, Debbie Allen, Richard Nelson and David Eldridge to Los Angeles in a series of West Coast premieres. Among these first looks for the Left Coast will be the fresh family musical Pearl and the stalker drama Boy Gets Girl. Allen's Pearl, co-created with Grammy-winning composer James ingram and Diane Louie, plays Nov. 12-Dec. 22 in a production helmed by the director-choreographer. An updating of "Snow White," the dance-intensive Pearl is the story of young girl whose beautiful voice outshines her rock star stepmother, the Queen. Persued by the Queen's desire for revenge, Pearl flees into the forest where she meets the clownish Dwowns and falls in love with her prince, Charm. Pearl's world premiere at Kennedy Center, who commissioned the musical, featured art-imitating-life casting — Allen's daughter Vivian Nixon starred as Pearl, while Allen took the role of the evil Queen.
Playing Jan. 28-March 9, 2003, Boy Gets Girl centers on a female feature journalist, who works at a "New York" style magazine. Driven and no-nonsense, with little time for social life, she makes the mistake of going on a blind date with a friend of a friend. The mild-mannered computer programmer she's set up with appears innocuous enough at first, but after she calls it off after two dates, he continues to call and send flowers with alarming frequency. Soon, his attentions turn violent and Gilman's protagonist is forced to abandon her life as she knows it and reexamine her relationship with every man she knows. Gilman is the highly-praised Chicago-based playwright of Spinning Into Butter and Blue Surge.
Opening the season will be Under the Blue Sky, a bittersweet examination of the loving and loveless relationships among a group of British and Irish professors, in what London's Guardian called "a teacher’s La Ronde." Gil Cates, producing director of the Geffen, will direct Blue Sky by England's Eldridge, the author of Serving It Up. Under the Blue Sky plays Sept. 10-Oct. 20.
After its world premiere at New York City's Playwright's Horizons in spring, 2002, Nelson's Franny's Way will play the Geffen in spring, 2003, April 8-May 18. Set in a Greenwich Village walk-up in the summer of 1957, Franny's Way is the story of two sisters who experience the mysterious passage from childhood to adulthood while visiting their their married cousin, Sally, and her husband, Phil, in New York City. Nelson won the 2000 Tony Award for James Joyce's The Dead.
Single tickets are $28-$46. The Geffen Playhouse is at 10886 Le Conte Avenue in Westwood, CA. The Geffen Playhouse is on the web at http://www.geffenplayhouse.com.
— By Christine Ehren
and Kenneth Jones