NYC's TACT Will Revive The Late Christopher Bean and Throw a Cocktail Party

News   NYC's TACT Will Revive The Late Christopher Bean and Throw a Cocktail Party The Actors Company Theatre/TACT, The critically-acclaimed company dedicated to presenting "neglected or rarely produced plays of literary merit," will resurrect Sidney Howard's The Late Christopher Bean and T.S. Eliot's The Cocktail Party Off-Broadway in 2009-10.
Sidney Howard and T.S. Eliot
Sidney Howard and T.S. Eliot

TACT presents at The Beckett Theatre (410 West 42nd Street) in the Theatre Row complex.

Scott Alan Evans, co-artistic director of TACT, said in a July 30 statement, "After having previously presented both these plays in our Concert Performance format, TACT is thrilled to be able to continue our exploration of these fine — and very different — works on our mainstage at Theatre Row. We believe Sidney Howard's razor-sharp look at greed, and Eliot's compassionate examination of our deepest physical and spiritual needs are as fresh as ever and will strike a resounding chord with audiences today."

Opening TACT's 17th season is The Late Christopher Bean, billed as "a sly 1930s comedy" by the author of They Knew What They Wanted.

"Yankee practicality collides with New York's sophisticated Art World as all hell breaks loose when a celebrated painter's early works are traced to the humble home of a country doctor," according to TACT. "Both a biting satire on the destructive power of greed and a touching view of a family in turmoil, this feisty comedy will have you cheering for the most unlikely heroines."

The play, first published in 1932 under the title Muse of All Work, had its world premiere at the Ford's Opera House in Baltimore on Oct. 24, 1932, and opened in New York a week later at Henry Miller's Theatre on Broadway with a cast that included Walter Connolly and Beulah Bondi. Playwright Howard won the 1925 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for They Knew What They Wanted (better known for its musical version, The Most Happy Fella). TACT company member and associate producer Jenn Thompson (TACT's Bedroom Farce, The Eccentricities of a Nightingale) directs. Performances will play Nov. 1-Dec. 5. Opening is Nov. 11.

The Cocktail Party, Eliot's "profound exploration of self-deception and redemption" concerns Edward and Lavinia Chamberlayne, who are throwing a fashionable party at their London flat. "The guests arrive only to discover that their hostess is nowhere to be found and a rather strange man, who knows no one, seems right at home," according to TACT. "Ruthless and compassionate, this 'Cocktail Party' embodies the day-to-day struggle of domestic life while turning the classic 'drawing room comedy' on its head."

The most popular of Eliot's plays, The Cocktail Party had its New York premiere in January 1950 at Henry Miller's Theatre and starred Alec Guinness as the mysterious stranger. It played 409 performances and won the 1950 Best Play Tony Award. It was revived in 1968 at The Lyceum Theatre (running a mere 44 performances) and starred Brian Bedford and Frances Sternhagen as the party hosts and Sydney Walker as the strange visitor. Evans (TACT's Home, The Sea, Incident at Vichy) will direct the TACT staging, to play March 7-April 10, 2010. Opening night is March 17.

The cast and creative team for both productions will be announced at a later date.

The Late Christopher Bean and The Cocktail Party will both have the following performance schedule: Monday, Wednesday–Friday at 7:30 PM; Saturday at 2 PM & 8 PM; Sunday at 3 PM. Tickets are $27.50-$55 and are available 24/7 through Ticket Central www.ticketcentral.com or from noon–8 PM daily at (212) 279-4200. They may also be obtained at the Theatre Row box office (410 West 42nd Street (between 9th & 10th Avenues) between noon and 8 PM daily.

Visit tactnyc.org.