Finishing up the season for Philadelphia Theater Company is Warren Leight's Tony-winning drama, Side Man, directed by James J. Christy. Previews began May 26 for the jazz-inflected piece, which officially opened May 31 and ends its scheduled run to June 25. Tickets are sold out for all but the Saturday matinee performance.
One of the 1998-99 Broadway season's most consistently acclaimed dramas, the play deals with a dying breed of 1950s-vintage jazz musicians -- in particular, the chaotically dysfunctional family of one of these musicians. Leight has admitted that much of the material in the play mirrors his own childhood.
Side Man ended its lengthy Broadway run on Halloween, Oct. 31, 1999 after 23 previews and 409 performances at the John Golden Theatre. The drama began its New York life at Off-Broadway's CSC March 3, 1998, running 7 previews and 35 regular performances before its move to the Roundabout's now-defunct mainstage Stage Right space for 27 previews and 93 regular performances, before its move to the Golden. (Completionists might want to add that the show's first staging was at Vassar College, for 12 performances.) A Kennedy Center mounting followed the Broadway run.
On Broadway, Edie Falco, Frank Wood and Christian Slater were among the notable leads. At PTC, Side Man features David Chandler (as the father, Gene), Chris Clavelli, Janis Dardaris, Susan Greenhill, John Lumia, Ian Merrill Peakes (as the son, Clifford) and Buck Schirner. Designing the show are Michael Brown (set), Brian Aldous (lighting), Janus Stefanowicz (costumes) and Peter Rydberg (sound).
The 24th PTC season opened with J.T. Rogers' racially-tinged drama, White People, leading company spokesperson Deborah Fleischman to tell Playbill On-Line, "We specialize in American writers," Garonzik added, "and we especially like plays that are about something substantial and engage a public conversation." Garonzik also noted that Bunny, Bunny and Master Class both started at PTC and journeyed on to New York (where Terrence McNally's play won the Tony). Next season -- the company's 25th Anniversary -- has yet to be chosen from "hundreds of scripts currently being read."
For tickets and information on Philadelphia Theatre Company's Side Man at the Plays & Players Theatre call (215) 735-0631.
-- By David Lefkowitz