Off-Broadway's TACT Will Produce A.R. Gurney's Children and Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers

News   Off-Broadway's TACT Will Produce A.R. Gurney's Children and Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers
 
The 2011-12 Off-Broadway season of TACT/The Actors Company Theatre will focus on the human comedies of two of America's most popular playwrights. A.R. Gurney's Children and Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers will play the Beckett Theatre on 42nd Street.

Cynthia Harris will star in Lost in Yonkers.
Cynthia Harris will star in Lost in Yonkers. Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

TACT co-artistic directors Scott Alan Evans, Cynthia Harris and Jenn Thompson announced the titles on July 13. Harris, who played five seasons on TV's "Mad About You" and has a rich history in New York and regional theatre, will play the formidable, unglamorous, tough-love Grandma Kurnitz in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Simon, under Thompson's direction, in 2012.

The season launches with Evans directing the early play by Gurney (The Dining Room, Love Letters, Sylvia) about a wealthy family gathering on the Fourth of July.

TACT is dedicated to presenting neglected or rarely produced plays of literary merit. Past work has included Tennessee Williams' The Eccentricities of a Nightingale, Vaclav Havel's The Memorandum, Edward Bond's The Sea, David Storey's Home, Arthur Miller's Incident at Vichy, and many more. In addition to its two mainstage shows at the Beckett at Theatre Row, TACT offers staged readings of plays in its salon series. TACT casts are drawn from the TACT Ensemble and from the wider Equity community.

Evans said in a statement, "While both of these works examine two very different American families from distinct and singular perspectives, they none the less share a remarkable commonality."

Children is set in 1970 as a wealthy family gathers to celebrate the Fourth of July in their summer home on an island off the New England coast. According to TACT, "With the return of an estranged and mysterious brother, secrets are revealed, loyalties tested and the shifting tides of generations challenge everyone's assumptions about their place in the family." Loosely based on John Cheever's short story "Goodbye, My Brother," Children "probes the heart of one family to discover wider truths about the American social landscape."

The play was first produced in London in 1974. Although Children has had three different East Coast productions over the years, TACT's staging marks its New York City debut, running Oct. 18-Nov. 19.

Lost in Yonkers won Simon the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, after 30 years of playwriting (The Odd Couple, Chapter Two, Barefoot in the Park). "In this memory play set in 1942 Yonkers, Bella is 35 years old, mentally-challenged and living at home with her mother, stern Grandma Kurnitz. As the play opens, ne'r do-well son Eddie deposits his two young sons on the old lady's doorstep. He is financially strapped and taking to the road as a salesman. The boys are left to contend with Grandma, with Bella and her secret romance, and with Louie, her brother, a small-time hood in a strange new world called Yonkers."

Lost in Yonkers opened on Broadway in February 1991 and played 780 performances. Irene Worth, Mercedes Ruehl and Kevin Spacey won Tony Awards for their performances as Grandma, Bella and Uncle Louie. It won the Tony Award for Best Play of 1991. TACT is presenting the first New York City production in 20 years. It will run March 14-April 14, 2012.

More casting and creative personnel will be announced later. To learn about TACT membership, visit www.tactnyc.org or call (212) 645-8228.

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TACT/The Actors Company Theatre "is dedicated to presenting neglected or rarely produced plays of literary merit, with a focus on creating theatre from its essence: the text and the actor's ability to bring it to life."

TACT's company of actors was drawn together in 1992 by a love of the literature of the theatre. After presenting 13 seasons of "in-concert" performances, the company took a leap with its 2006-07 season by presenting fully-staged productions of David Storey's Home and The Sea by Edward Bond at The Beckett Theatre on Theatre Row. TACT became a resident company on Theatre Row with its 2007-08 season when they presented The Runner Stumbles by Milan Stitt and The Eccentricities of a Nightingale by Tennessee Williams, which The New York Times included in its Top 10 Theatre Picks for 2008.

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