Willa Cather's O, Pioneers! were knocking at the door, so Woman's Project and Productions were forced to close their hit world premiere of Saint Lucy's Eyes April 29 after a week extension. The play, starring recent Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award winner Ruby Dee as a wise but controversial old woman, has resurfaced, however, at the Cherry Lane Theatre, where it reopens July 12 for a run through Sept. 2.
In Memphis in 1968, if a woman got accidentally pregnant, she went to Grandma for the "cure." Grandma's abortions performed in the back room of a tenement apartment and her life-learned advice saves and inspires a frightened teenager. Twelve years later, she returns as a successful young lawyer, hoping to give something back to Grandma.
Playwright Wimberley is also the author of The Mark and Forest City. St. Lucy's Eyes was developed with the Mentor Project 1999 at Cherry Lane Alternative under Wendy Wasserstein (Old Money, The Heidi Chronicles).
Billie Allen directs. Once an actress and dancer Off Broadway and in film and TV, Allen has helmed Kathleen Collins' The Brothers, Anna Deavere Smith's Aye, Aye, Aye..., Last American Dixieland Band and the musical Miss Ethel Waters, in which she also performed.
Dee is both a Theatre Hall of Fame and NAACAP Image Award Hall of Fame inductee, whose theatre credits include A Raisin in the Sun, Boesman and Lena (Obie Award), Wedding Band (Drama Desk Award), Long Day's Journey Into Night, The Taming of the Shrew and The Glass Menagerie. Remaining with her for the Cherry Lane run are Jitney's award-winning Willis Burks II, Toks Olagundoye and Sally A. Stewart (Livin' in the Wind). Designing St. Lucy's Eyes are Beowulf Borritt (sets), Alvin Perry (costumes), Jane Reisman (lights) and Michael C. Wimberly (sound).
Tickets are $55 with a $20 student rush. The Cherry Lane Theatre is located at 38 Commerce Street. For reservations, call (212) 239-6200.
-- By Christine Ehren