The pair of Harold Pinter one-acts originally skedded to begin performances at Manhattan Theatre Club May 4 will be replaced by the American premiere of the London hit, East is East, an MTC co production with The New Group, directed by Scott Elliott.
Pinter's The Lovers and A Kind of Alaska have been shelved in favor of actor-playwright Ayub Khan-Din's chronicle life in a mixed race family -- a domineering Pakistani father, a liberal English mother -- in England in the 1970s. Six siblings represent the family's conflicting traditions, mores and loyalties.
The play, Khan-Din's first, was a success at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 1996 and won the Writers' Guild Awards for Best New Writer and Best West End Play. A film version is in the works. The playwright was seen as an actor in the films, "My Beautiful Launderette" and "Sammy and Rosie Get Laid."
Elliott, who helmed Three Sisters and Present Laughter for Broadway, will direct the production on MTC's Stage I. It will be the final staging of The New Group's 1998-99 season.
As artistic director of The New Group, Elliott has directed Hazelwood Jr. High, Goose-Pimples, Ecstacy and Curtains, among others. Performances for East is East begin May 4 (opening is May 25) at MTC's Stage I at City Center, 131 W. 55th St. (between Sixth and Seventh Avenues). Single tickets (Stage I, $50; Stage II, $36) can be reserved by calling (212) 581-1212.
MTC offers $20 student tickets for all performances and $15 general admission passes for Stage II, both subject to availability.
Also coming spring 1999 from MTC:
*The nonprofit will “co-produce” the Broadway stand of Conor McPherson’s London’s hit, The Weir at the Walter Kerr Theatre, beginning previews March 23 and opening April 1. A co-producer credit for a nonprofit in this case means MTC’s 20,000 or so subscribers will become a core audience for McPherson’s anecdotal drama of a lonely woman who comes to a remote country pub and exchanges a series of eerie ghost stories with the tavern's equally lonely habitues. It’s not uncommon for theatre companies like MTC or the Roundabout to make out-of-theatre shows part of their subscription. The Weir’s producers are Thomas Viertel, Richard Frankel, Steven Baruch, Marc Routh, Jujamcyn Theatres and Turnstyle/Ambassador Theatre Group.
*Mike Ockrent (Crazy for You) will stage the Paris hit, La Terrasse, or The Terrace, closing the Stage II season at MTC. By special arrangement with Laura Pels, the comedy by Jean-Claude Carriere (The Mahabarata) begins previews May 18 and opens June 9. The new translation of the so-called existential farce is by Mark O’Donnell. The Ionesco/Sartre-style comedy involves the breakup of a couple and the frenzy of eager Parisians fighting to rent their apartment.
*MTC’s previously-announced staging of Chay Yew’s Red, about an American author’s return to her native Communist China and her involvement in the Beijing Opera, began previews March 2 and opens March 23 at Stage II. David Petrarca directs the co-production with Long Wharf Theatre.
*Stage I continues to host the New York premiere of Captains Courageous, the Musical, with music by Frederick Freyer, book and lyrics by Patrick Cook, direction by Lynne Meadow and musical staging by Jerry Mitchell. Treat Williams stars as Manuel, the Portuguese fisherman who becomes the guiding force in a boy’s life. The Rudyard Kipling-inspired musical opened Feb. 16 and closes April 4.
-- By Kenneth Jones