Although the last thing New York City needed in 2001 was an American coward, Off-Broadway's TACT troupe is hoping that 2002 will be a great year for a Coward full of Americans.
To clarify: arriving May 10, 2002 — nearly 30 years after Noel Coward's death — is a world premiere play by world-famous dramatist, composer and bon vivant. Titled Long Island Sound, the play covers exactly that: rich hobnobbers on the North Shore of Long Island, circa 1947. According to a spokesperson for The Actors Company Theatre at Boneau/Bryan-Brown, Long Island Sound is based on Coward's short story, "What Mad Pursuit," and features only one non-American character — a rarity for the upper-crusty playwright.
Coward's best-known works include Blithe Spirit, Present Laughter and Private Lives. Broadway's most recent Cowardly visit was a dark and ambisexual take on his 1933 comedy, Design for Living. Born in 1899, Coward was Knighted by the Queen in 1970, three years before his death in his beloved tropical home in Jamaica.
Designers have yet to be announced for the production, which officially opens May 13 for a limited run and will be directed by co-artistic director Scott Alan Evans. The large cast will come from TACT's acting company, which features such notables as Simon Jones and Cynthia Harris (both also co-artistic directors), Nancy Opel, Delphi Harrington, Larry Keith, Joseph Siravo, Ivar Brogger, Bradford Cover and Sean Arbuckle.
TACT was founded in 1992 to present neglected or rarely produced plays of literary merit with a focus on creating a theatre from its essence. Most recently, they staged J.B. Priestley's Time and the Conways at the New York Historical Society in November. Other upcoming projects include Ketti Frings' adaptation of Thomas Wolfe's novel, "Look Homeward Angel" (Jan. 18-22, 2002) and G.B. Shaw's comedy-drama, Widowers' Houses (March 8-11, 2002). Long Island Sound will be staged at the American Theatre of Actors (the pre-Bway home of Urinetown), 314 West 54th St. For more information call (212) 645-TACT or check out their website at www.tactnyc.org.
— By David Lefkowitz
and Steve Luber