On Jan. 19, Off-Broadway's hit dark comedy, Killer Joe, will get a new mother, sister and, heck, even a new Killer Joe. Paul Dillon, Jan Leslie Harding and Fairuza Balk will enter the dysfunctional trailer park family comedy.
Actor Dillon, originated the role of Joe in the play's Chicago premiere. He has appeared in numerous films including: "Blink," "Cutthroat Island," and notably as Patty O'Brien in "Austin Powers". This will be Dillon's New York stage debut.
Playing the trailer trash sister should be no stretch for Balk who recently starred in a similar role opposite Adam Sandler in "The Waterboy." Other films include: "The Craft", "American History X", and "The Island of Dr. Moreau".
Taking over the Amanda Plummer role will be OBIE-winning actress, Jan Leslie Harding. While having an extensive resume, Harding is perhaps best known for her longtime artistic associations with director Richard Foreman (Pearls for Pigs, My Head Is a Sledgehammer) and playwright Mac Wellman (Bad Penny, Crowbar).
Killer Joe is the story of a dysfunctional Texas family: son Chris, who needs quick cash to pay off a drug debt, his father Ansel who's in no position to help him; his manipulating step-mother (Harding) and his innocent sister (Balk) Dottie. Chris' real mother has stolen the only "assets" he has, leaving him only one way out, until Killer Joe (Dillon) enters the scene. Wilson Milam helms the piece, with Greg MacPherson designing the lights, George Xenos (set) and Jana Stauffer (costumes). David Brimmer will serve as fight choreographer.
Killer Joe premiered at the Lab space of Evanston, IL's Next Theatre in 1993. Michael Shannon and Marc Nelson, who appeared in that staging, will also appear in the NY mounting, as will Sarah Paulson. Letts' play was staged in 1994 by the aforementioned 29th Street Repertory. Their 1994 mounting was staged by Wilson Milam, who directed the original and will again stage the Off-Broadway Joe.
[Killer is certainly an appropriate title for a show at the Soho Playhouse on Vandam St., since its last full-time tenant was Grandma Sylvia's Funeral.]
Peter Rybolt, managing director of Chicago's Next Theatre, told Playbill On Line Killer Joe was a big hit for the company. "It ran eight or nine months and sold out every night." The show began New York performances Oct. 1, 1998 and received rave reviews for the writing.
Tracy Letts' Killer Joe, starring Paul Dillon, Jan Leslie Harding and Fairuza Balk, plays at the Soho Playhouse (15 Vandam Street). For tickets ($37.50-$47.50) or more information, call (212) 239-6200.
-- By Sean McGrath