Dee Hoty will be the flinty, outspoken onetime hippie in the Repertory of St. Louis Repertory Theatre-Hartford Stage production of Lanford Wilson's Book of Days.
The Tony Award-nominated star of Footloose plays Martha, who, in the world premiere staging by Michigan's Purple Rose Theatre Company in April 1998, swore, chain-smoked and taught at the local Christian college in the small-town Missouri setting.
The Rep staging is Sept. 8-Oct. 8; Hartford Stage in Connecticut gets the piece Oct. 21-Nov. 20. There is hope the production will move to New York City after Hartford. A spokesperson for Wilson at his agency, ICM, told Playbill On-Line earlier in this year that a New York City run was being eyed after Hartford.
The play follows a local bookkeeper, Ruth, who has been cast as St. Joan in a local community theatre production of the Bernard Shaw play, and how she searches to uncover the truth of the local cheese tycoon's death. A cheese factory is the town's major industry.
Book of Days was commissioned by Jeff Daniels' Purple Rose Theatre Company. Retired Detroit Free Press critic Lawrence DeVine nominated the script for the ATCA award, but the play got widely mixed reviews from the major Detroit dailies. Wilson and director Marshall W. Mason have enlisted their Circle Repertory Company colleagues from the old days to create the world of the play: Designers are John Lee Beatty (set), Laura Crow (costumes) and Dennis Parichy (lighting), Chuck London (sound) -- all alums of Burn This and other CRC shows.
Jonathan Hogan (Burn This, Fifth of July), Alan Campbell (Sunset Boulevard), Pamela Dunlap, Shannon Burkett, Jim Haynie, Boris McGiver, Tuck Milligan, Matthew Rauch and Bellamy Young (The Life) are also in the ensemble cast. The cast is expected to be the same in both Missouri and Connecticut. (A spokesperson for Footloose told Playbill On-Line Hoty will return to the show in November.)
The staging is a major opportunity for two Michigan Equity actors. Detroit-area actress Suzanne Regan will recreate her performance in the lead role of Ruth, the town bookkeeper who asks questions about a mysterious death of a business leader in Dublin, MO.
Michigan actor John Lepard, who played the son of the local business leader in the original staging, will play the town minister. Purple Rose artistic director Guy Sanville directed the world premiere at the small professional theatre (SPT) Equity house in rural Chelsea, MI.
Book of Days won the American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award in March 1999.
-- By Kenneth Jones
and Robert Simonson