Leslie Uggams and Lynda Gravatt play sisters searching for love and companionship in wartime Harlem of the 1940s in John Henry Redwood's The Old Settler, which launched Primary Stages' 1998-1999 season Oct. 28 for an unspecified but limited run. There's been talk of bringing the well-received piece into a commercial Off-Broadway house, but for the moment, the show has been officially extended through Jan. 2, 1999 at its Off-Broadway space due to "overwhelming ticket demand." Previews began Oct. 7.
Rosalyn Coleman and Godfrey L. Simmons Jr. complete the cast. Harold Scott directs, and Eric Krebs and Anne Strickland Squadron are co- producing the piece. Harold Scott (The Mighty Gents ) directs.
Designing Settler are Bob Phillips (set), Frances Aronson (lighting) and Jim Van Bergen (sound).
Uggams won a 1968 Tony Award for her work in Hallelujah, Baby!, tying with Patricia Routledge in Darling of the Day.
A warm-hearted, bittersweet comedy about middle-aged ladies who take in a handsome boarder, the play was embraced by critics in its previous presentations at NJ's McCarter Theatre, CT's Long Wharf Theatre and the Virginia Stage. According to Redwood's play, the title refers to a woman, 40-plus, whose prospects for marriage are basically nil. For tickets and information on The Old Settler call (212) 333-4052.
Upcoming at Primary Stages:
The Turn of the Screw, adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher from the eerie and ambiguous Henry James novella and directed by Melia Bensussen, fills the next Primary Stages slot, (Mar. 10-Apr. 16, 1999). James' story tells of a young governess haunted by demons -- who may just be in her own head.
Conor McPherson, whose St. Nicholas put Brian Cox in award competition last season, will return to Primary Stages in late spring with a new work, This Lime Tree Bower (May 5-June 6, 1999). in which three young men give conflicting accounts of an unlikely weekend in a small, tawdry Irish seaside resort.
A new play by David Ives, whose Mere Mortals and All in the Timing went into open-ended runs from their Primary Stages debuts, is also under consideration, as is a solo show "in the tradition of" St. Nicholas and Virgins & Other Myths.
Now in its 14th season, Primary Stages is headed by artistic director Casey Childs. The company recently received three major grants -- from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Jerome Foundation, and New American Writers Group -- to help nurture new playwrights.
For tickets ($30-$35) and information on shows at Primary Stages, call (212) 333-7471.