Austin Pendleton, Sally Murphy, Jeff Perry, Rondi Reed and Mariann Mayberry -- all Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble members -- will fill the lead roles in that Chicago theatre's 2001 production of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. The play, staged by Sheldon Patinkin, will run June 14- July 15, 2001, at the Steppenwolf Studio space.
Pendleton is well versed in the role of the long-suffering Vanya, who has wasted his life serving his pompous brother-in-law, an eminent but vacuous professor. He's played the role a couple times, most notably in a production at New York City's CSC Repertory in the mid-80s. Pendleton most recently appeared at Steppenwolf in Valparaiso, at the same time, his play Orson's Shadow was being staged in the theatre's Garage space.
Murphy will be the professor's young, beautiful wife, Elena. Murphy recently played a zonked-out partygoer in Broadway's The Wild Party. Other Broadway credits include Carousel and The Grapes of Wrath. Perry, a founder of the company, will be Dr. Astrov.
Anton Chekhov the playwright and Anton Chekhov the short story writer will both be duly represented in the 2000-01 studio season at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago. The season will lead of with Frank Galati's dramatization of Chekhov's story, "The Duel." The European Repertory Company production, directed by Luda Lopatina, and starring Robert Breuler, will run Oct. 12-Nov. 12 (opening Oct. 21). A very Chekhovian story, The Duel concerns Ivan, who is bored with life and his mistress (natch) and longs to escape to St. Petersburg (natch, again), but instead finds himself engaged in a duel.
After a break, filled by the season's second attraction -- Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros' The Ordinary Yearnings of Miriam Buddwing -- it'll be time for the Russian master again, as director Patinkin mounts Uncle Vanya. Curt Columbus did the new translation.
Ordinary Yearnings will be directed by Anne D. Shapiro and run Jan. 11-Feb. 11, 2001 (opening Jan. 20). The Miriam Budding of the title has a host of problems: her husband is dying, but not fast enough; one son is an over-eager cop, while the other is a forest-loving poet; and her daughter has dumped out all the vodka. Hmm...sounds a little like Chekhov.
Season tickets are $48-$82. Steppenwolf is located on 1650 Halsted Street. For more information, call (312) 335-1650.
--By Robert Simonson