Off-Broadway's Primary Stages company had its 2000-01 season planned out weeks ago, but then the season opener, Milton Frederick Marcus' The Gardens of Frau Hess, was suddenly cancelled, leaving a gap in the schedule. Filling the bill turned out to be Luis Alfaro's dark comedy drama, Straight As a Line, which started performances Sept. 20, and opened Oct. 2. Reviews were poor-to-mixed for the piece, which ends as scheduled Oct. 22. Jon Lawrence Rivera directed the piece, which stars Natsuko Ohama and James Sie. (The latter, by the way, is the voice of the title character in the animated TV series, "Jackie Chan Adventures," according to the show's current press reps, at Jeffrey Richards Associates.)
When the show premiered at Chicago's Goodman Theatre in 1998, this was the Goodman press release synopsis: "Paulie's mum is visiting him in New York. They've had a lovely morning getting Paulie's nipple pierced, and as they wait for the subway, Paulie informs us he's decided to jump in front of a train, a fact his mum calmly confirms."
L.A. native Alfaro's other plays include The Ballad of Ginger Esparza, co-written with Diane Rodriguez and workshopped at CA's Mark Taper Forum. Voted one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics by Hispanic Business Magazine, Alfaro received a "Genius" grant from the MacArthur Foundation.
For tickets ($40) and information on Straight As a Line call (212) 333-4052.
* Also on the Primary Stages schedule is Krisit, by Y York [sic]. In it, a young movie producer tries to convince a reclusive actress -- one who'd been burned by a vicious review -- to go back into the spotlight 25 years later. Melia Bensussen, who staged Primary Stages' The Turn of the Screw last season, directs.
John Henry Redwood, who penned the regionally popular The Old Settler, returns to Primary Stages in March 2001 with No Niggers, No Jews, No Dogs. Set in 1944 North Carolina, the play tells of the relationship between a Jewish sociologist and the black family he's come to study. Both are targets of the same racism and rage.
For information on subscriptions ($120) or single tickets ($35) to Primary Stages, 354 West 45th St., call (212) 333-4052.
-- By David Lefkowitz