Rita Gardner Leads The Parker Family Circus Feb. 8-March 3

News   Rita Gardner Leads The Parker Family Circus Feb. 8-March 3 Broadway and Off-Broadway star Rita Gardner heads up a hectic Texas brood in the world premiere of Jane Buttram’s The Parker Family Circus, playing Feb. 8-March 3 at the Blue Heron Arts Center. Opening night is Feb. 13.

Broadway and Off-Broadway star Rita Gardner heads up a hectic Texas brood in the world premiere of Jane Buttram’s The Parker Family Circus, playing Feb. 8-March 3 at the Blue Heron Arts Center. Opening night is Feb. 13.

Gardner plays Mamaw, the Parker matriarch, who calls her busy children back to the nest when her mildly retarded grandson starts displaying very adult behaviors. The Abingdon Theatre Company, who produces, read the play with Gardner in a workshop last year.

Buttram won the 1995 Roger L. Stevens Award from the Kennedy Center for Backwoods. Other credits include Floodwatch, Jersey Jumps, Glory Girls and Private Battles.

Gardner portrayed the original Girl in The Fantasticks, kicking off a New York career that included Ben Franklin in Paris, On a Clear Day, You Can See Forever, Pal Joey, Prisoner of Second Avenue, Steel Magnolias and Wings. Lately, she has been performing her one-woman show, Try to Remember – A Look Back at Off-Broadway.

Obie winner Carole Monferdini (The Club) plays the too busy daughter-in-law, Lottie. Also in the cast are Lori Gardner, Debbie Jaffe, Michael Pemberton and Bryan Schany. Designing the show are James F. Wolk (sets), David Castaneda (lighting) and Ingrid Maurer (costumes).

Tickets are $19. The Blue Heron Arts Center is located at 123 E. 24th Street. For reservations, call (212) 206-1515 or visit www.smarttix.com.

— By Christine Ehren