Don Amendolia directs the "fully-staged reading" compiled by Vivian Gornick and Nora Eisenberg. The evenings include "writings by celebrated authors on the pleasure, the amusement and amazement of the extraordinary phenomenon of growing older." The revolving cast of distinguished actors — from Kitty Carlisle Hart to Rosemary Harris — will each read a variety of pieces during the evening.
The seasoned readers include Kitty Carlisle, Joan Copeland, Carmen de Lavallade, Sandy Duncan, Alvin Epstein, Rita Gam, Tammy Grimes, Ben Hammer, Rosemary Harris, Dina Merrill, Margery Beddow, Michael Fischetti, Robert Ierardi and Peggy Pope, among others.
Performances begin March 5 and continue to March 30 at the Arclight Theatre, 152 W. 71st Street.
The Colleagues Theatre Company was founded in 1996 by Catherine Wolf "to identify and develop performance opportunities for the mature and seasoned actor and to provide training opportunities in theatrical craftsmanship for gifted high school graduates from underserved communities." The not-for-profit company has presented the American premiere of Angela Huth's the Understanding, the world premieres of George Bamford's Irish Strawberries and Gary Richards' Second Summer; Jean Giraudoux's comic fable The Madwoman of Chaillot starring Kim Hunter, Anne Jackson and Alvin Epstein and, most recently, Max Frisch's The Firebugs starring Laurence Luckinbill. The musical director for Wit & Wisdom is John Mulcahy. Designers are Marcia Madeira (lighting), John Phifer (sound) and costume coordination by Karin Beatty.
The 7 PM March 5 opening night of Wit & Wisdom (including post-performance reception) is a $100 per ticket benefit for The Colleagues Theatre Company. Four other performances will benefit The House for Elder Artists. Tickets for all performance (except opening night) are $19 with TDF vouchers accepted. For reservations, call (212) 787-8716.
Performances play 8 PM Wednesday-Saturday, 8 PM Mondays, 3 PM Saturday and Sunday matinees. There will be an additional Sunday evening performance on the closing day, 7:30 PM March 30.
The staging is part of a growing trend of theatrical events in which performers read a "script" rather than memorize and act it traditionally. The Exonerated, for example, has a revolving cast of stars reading words of death row inmates. The Vagina Monologues had actresses reading the writings of Eve Ensler. A.R. Gurney's popular Love Letters had actors at desks reading scripted correspondence of fictional lovers.