Just a day after winning the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for her drama, How I Learned To Drive, Paula Vogel discussed her very full plate with Playbill On-Line.
Vogel said she is adapting Drive as a movie script for an independent producer -- plus polishing her new drama, The Mineola Twins, for her Broadway debut in early 1999, working on a new drama to debut at Washington DC's Arena Stage, and updating the libretto of the 1965 Alan Jay Lerner/ Burton Lane On a Clear Day You Can See Forever for a Broadway revival.
Vogel said, "I always wanted to write some straight plays -- you'll pardon the expression -- for a couple of years and then get back to my first love, which is musical theatre."
She said she is working with director Michael Mayer (Triumph of Love) on a "wonderful concept" for the musical about a young woman who discovers, Shirley MacLaine-like, that she's lived previous lives. "There's a lot of gender play to it," she said.
As for her Pulitzer, Vogel, who came close once before with The Baltimore Waltz, said, "I think this is the most significant award in a playwright's career. Just in terms in of the honor of joining the list of people who have won -- I mean, there are some pretty astonishing names on that list: August Wilson, Lanford Wilson, Tony Kushner, Tennessee Williams . . . It's humbling. I think this award certainly will make a psychological difference to me. I'm not sure what this will mean a year from now. I guess it means I'll get an obit in the New York Times" [when she dies]. Nevertheless, Vogel said she firmly supports the producers' decision to go ahead and close How I Learned To Drive this Sunday, April 19, as scheduled, rather than capitalize on the Pulitzer.
She said the show's actors worked a "modern miracle" in keeping up the quality level of the performances, and that she wants to go out "with head held high," rather than "switch casts every few weeks.
Drive will have played 450 performances.
She said she's looking forward to the many productions of Drive scheduled at U.S. regional theatres and internationally. The producers supplied a list of 31 planned productions, including Atlanta's Alliance Stage April 15, Baltimore's Center Stage May 8, London's Donmar Warehouse June 18, Seattle's Intiman Theatre in July 1998, and Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum in February 1999.
In the meantime, Vogel said, she has blocked out this summer to complete her screenplay version of How I Learned To Drive, which she said she had originally envisioned not as a play, but as a movie.
She said she went with independent producer David Richardthal because he agreed to a contract that gave her control of the script -- a rare condition in Hollywood.
Vogel gave no timetable for any of the projects except the upcoming Broadway premiere of her comedy, The Mineola Twins, which she said has been penciled in for a January 1999 premiere at Roundabout Theatre in Times Square.
The Mineola Twins, which spans three decades in the lives of sexually opposite twins in a crushingly normal suburb, debuted at Alaska's Perseverance Theatre, has been produced at Rhode Island's Trinity Rep and had a workshop at Roundabout this past January.
Vogel's ongoing artistic collaboration with director Molly Smith has transferred from Alaska to Washington DC as Smith moves from artistic director of Perseverance to that of Arena Stage, where Vogel is about to be named playwright in residence.
At Arena, Vogel will debut her new play, A Civil War Christmas. She said she's also seeking the rights to a adapt a novel whose title she said she wants to keep under wraps until contracts are signed.
-- By Robert Viagas