Redgrave, Ebersole and Other Talking Heads Begin Yakking Off-Broadway, March 22

News   Redgrave, Ebersole and Other Talking Heads Begin Yakking Off-Broadway, March 22 Lynn Redgrave, Kathleen Chalfant, Daniel Davis, Christine Ebersole, Valerie Mahaffey, Brenda Wehle star in the collection of Alan Bennett one-act plays, Talking Heads, at the Minetta Lane Theatre.
Kathleen Chalfant
Kathleen Chalfant

Performances begin March 22 with Program A of the repertory offerings of one-acts. Opening is set for April 6 (when the 3 PM matinee is Program A and the 7 PM show is Program B). Michael Engler directs Talking Heads, as his did at the Tiffany Theatre in Los Angeles in 2002.

Three of six soliloquies will be featured each performance, making Heads the latest entry in the trend of rotating star cast shows (The Vagina Monologues, The Exonerated, Trumbo). A seventh piece, starring Frances Sternhagen, will be added to the rotation in mid-May.

The characters in the plays include (in Program A) an expert on antiques (Wehle) whose appreciation for fine antiques cannot be diminished — not even by the Hand of God; a nosy spinster (Ebersole) who winds up in jail after pushing into business not her own in A Lady of Letters; a minister's wife (Chalfant) questioning the existence of God and finding Him in the arms of an Indian shopkeeper in Bed Among the Lentils; and (in Program B) an actress (Mahaffey) who thinks she has a great deal to offer, and, when she gets her big chance, she offers it, in Her Big Chance; a reclusive woman (Redgrave) who finds her way out into the wide world in Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet; and the middle-aged Graham (Davis), still living with his mother, who is put out by an old suitor who comes to claim her in A Chip in the Sugar.

The respected Frances Sternhagen, seen in a range of work from Mornings at Seven and Driving Miss Daisy to "E.R." and "Sex and the City," will appear in Bennett's Waiting for the Telegram, which will enter the performance rotation in mid-May, a spokesperson said.

Television viewers will remember the series as an often repeated feature on PBS. Bennett himself played the role of Graham on television. Talking Heads scripts were first made for the BBC, but have since been staged in the theatre many times, including at Los Angeles' Tiffany Theatre. Chalfant and Davis appeared in the L.A. engagement, as did Annette Bening, Tyne Daly and Swoosie Kurtz. The six Bennett solo works that make up Talking Heads are broken up into Program A and Program B (three plays each) and are offered at a discount of $100 for all six when bought together.

The Sternhagen play may serve as a replacement play in the programs, or may augment a program, offering four pieces for the price of three in one sitting. Her official start date has not been announced.

Bennett is the author of Forty Years On, The Lady in the Van and his Oscar-nominated "The Madness of King George."

Designers are Rachel Hauck (scenic), Candice Donnelly (costume), Chris Parry (lighting) and Wendell K. Harrington (projection). Michael Roth is sound designer and composer of the score.

The New York premiere of Talking Heads is produced by Plymouth Projects (Tom Hulce and Julia Rask), Ron Kastner, Daryl Roth, Margaret Cotter, Cheryl Wiesenfeld, Amy Nederlander and Scott Nederlander.

Tickets range $35-$65. Minetta Lane Theatre is at 18 Minetta Lane in Greenwich Village. For ticket information, call (212) 307-4100.