One of the more popular plays on the regional circuit, John Henry Redwood's The Old Settler, now gets an airing at the Cleveland Play House, April 6-May 9, officially opening April 9. A warm-hearted, bittersweet comedy about middle-aged ladies who take in a handsome boarder, the play was embraced by critics in its previous presentations at NJ's McCarter Theatre, CT's Long Wharf Theatre, and Virginia Stage before reaching Off-Broadway's Primary Stages Theatre in late 1998 in a production starring Leslie Uggams and Lynda Gravatt. Ernestine Jackson and Gammy Singer star in the Ohio staging, alongside Ty Jones (as the boarder, named "Husband") and Schantelle Cason.
David McClendon directs The Old Settler, which features sets by Michael Vaughn Sims, costumes by Lindsay W. Davis, lighting by Tracy Odishaw and sound by Robin Heath.
Redwood's comedy-drama about Harlem in the 1940s was recognized with a special citation from the American Theatre Critics Association and won the 1995 Beverly Hills Theatre Guild/Julie Harris Playwriting Award and Virginia Duvall Mann Playwriting Award.
According to Redwood's play, the title refers to a woman, 40-plus, whose prospects for marriage are basically nil. The author based his story on his mother and aunt, who shared a home after his father died. "I used to watch them bicker about little minor things and they would go on and on," he said. "I wanted to capture the love of these two sisters over time."
For tickets and information on The Old Settler at The Cleveland Play House call (216) 795-7000.
-- By David Lefkowitz