Patrick Stewart and Blythe Danner are currently in negotiations to star in the Public Theatre's fall production of Arthur Miller's The Ride Down Mt. Morgan, as first reported in Variety and confirmed by Public spokesman Tom Naro.
The Ride Down Mt. Morgan, directed by former CSC artistic director, David Esbjornson, looks at a man who's devoted his life to the sybaritic indulgences of the Reagan era, only to find his values changed when confronted with a near-fatal car accident. Stewart plays the man; Danner his wife of 25 years. A third female role has not been cast. The drama begins previews Off-Broadway Oct. 20.
Stewart has starred on Broadway in the George C. Wolfe-directed The Tempest and his own one-man adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Danner is a three-decade veteran of the American stage, most recently appearing in A.R. Gurney's Sylvia at Manhattan Theatre Club and Terence Rattigan's The Deep Blue Sea at the Roundabout Theatre Company.
* Here's the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theatre line-up:
Coming to Broadway will be producer George C. Wolfe's revival of On The Town, an offering of last season's Central Park roster. Choreographed by Keith Young, a former principal dancer with the Twyla Tharp comany, On The Town begins previews Oct. 20 at the Gershwin Theatre.
* Starting off the Public's in-house shows, Oct. 13, will be Brian Kulick's staging of Pericles. Kulick's credits include A Dybbuk at the Public and a 1995 Amphitryon at Off-Broadway's Classic Stage Company. The William Shakespeare comedy/drama plays at the Martinson Theatre. * Stop/Kiss, a comedy by Diana Son, tells of a woman whose life is turned upside down when she kisses another woman. Jo Bonney, Eric Bogosian's wife and frequent collaborator (Pounding Nails in the Floor With My Forehead), will direct Stop/Kiss, which received a staged reading at the Public's New Works Now series in May. Other works by Son include Boy, which was directed by Michael Greif at CA's La Jolla Playhouse. Son's comedy Fishes played at Off-Off-Broadway's New Georges Theatre. Previews for Stop/Kiss begin Nov. 17 at the Shiva space.
With Wild Party, artistic director Wolfe directs a new musical by Michael John LaChiusa (The First Lady Suite, The Petrified Prince). The piece, starting previews Feb. 4, 1999, is based on a poem by Joseph Moncure March about a debauched party in 1920s Hollywood. The material was also adapted into a 1975 James Ivory film.
LaChiusa, who earned a cult following with his Hello Again Off Broadway and Chronicle of a Death Foretold on Broadway, is also collaborating with director-choreographer Graciela (Ragtime) Daniele on the Broadway-bound Marie Christine, which is described as "a quasi-operatic version of Medea, set in 1880s New Orleans and Chicago."
Everybody's Ruby: Story Of A Murder In Florida, which played as part of the Public's First Stages series last season, this time returns as a mainstage offering at the Anspacher, starting Mar. 9, 1999. The drama, which hasn't yet named a director, is based on the murder of a popular white doctor in 1952 Florida. A married black woman is accused of the crime, setting off tremendous racial agitation.
"I discovered the story in a footnote in a biography of Zora Neale Hurston," said adaptor Thulani Davis. "It was an amazing untold story about sex, race, money and Southern mores. I started out reading the newspaper clips Hurston wrote, and I couldn't answer to my own satisfaction why she didn't write a book about it. It raises questions about who owns a story."
Davis, a journalist and novelist as well as a playwright, is also collaborating with Wolfe and opera composer Anthony Davis on the opera, Amistad, which premiered at Chicago's Lyric Opera.
Ellen McLaughlin's Tongue of a Bird arrives Mar. 16, 1999 at the Martinson Hall space. McLaughlin provided one of the most memorable theatre images of the 1990s, playing the angel in Angels in America, before turning to playwriting. She debuted her latest drama, Bird, at Seattle's Intiman Theatre and then brought it to London's Almeida in November 1997. This mounting was commissioned and co produced by L.A.'s Mark Taper Forum. (One unusual aspect of the aforementioned Seattle production: everyone in the cast, design and production team was a woman, led by director Lisa Peterson, who will direct the show again in New York.)
Tongue of a Bird is described as "the powerful and poetic story of a search-and-rescue pilot who hunts for an abducted girl, while trying to come to terms with the loss of her own mother. . . about one woman's lost child, and another's lost childhood."
McLaughlin's other plays include "Iphigenia and Other Daughters," "A Narrow Bed," "Infinity's House" and "Days and Nights Within."
Closing the season will be Lisa Kron's 2.5 Minute Ride, directed by Mark Brokaw. Kron, one of the Five Lesbian Brothers, brought her solo to CA's Marin CenterStage, Feb.28-March 1, and SF's Magic Theatre, March 3 21. The show also had toured to RI's Trinity Rep, Jan. 21-25.
Writer and actress Kron (101 Humiliating Stories) tells of the trip she took with her 74 year-old father -- a Holocaust survivor -- to Auschwitz (the Jan. 21 performance benefits both RI's Perishable Theatre and the Rhode Island Holocaust Memorial Museum). Also part of the mix: other true family travels and her brother's marriage to an internet bride.
The show's title refers to a "Mean Streak" roller coaster ride in Sandusky, OH, which Kron took with her father -- who was taking nitrogen pills for a heart condition at the time. His philosophy about the Holocaust (in which his parents died): "If it weren't for the good fortune of being born a Jew, I might have become a Nazi."
As part of The Five Lesbian Brothers, Kron appeared in The Secretaries and the recent Brides Of The Moon at New York Theatre Workshop.
This season, the Public will also turn pub-like, when a new cabaret space will be inaugurated in October. Dubbed "Joe's Pub," the site will offer an American composer & songwriter series on Mondays, Spoken Word on Tuesdays, World Music on Wednesdays, and theatrical performances running Thursdays-Sundays. Artists expected to take part in the latter include Suzan-Lori Parks and Roger Guenveur Smith (A Huey P. Newton Story).
Also on tap for the Public season will be performances and debates on public affairs, grouped under the heading "Free At Three." Free, too, will be a "Block Party For The Arts," Sunday, Sept. 27. This all-day, outdoor celebration on Lafayette Street, will combine performances with the events of a street fair.
Continuing NYSF projects include the First Stages workshop series and the New Work Now! Playreading festival. Both events will occur in spring 1999.
For more information on shows at NYSF/the Public Theatre call (212) 260 2400. Subscribers can save up to 35 percent off box office prices.