Theatreworks/USA's Sarah, Plain and Tall, the musical, ends its scheduled run at the Lucille Lortel Theatre Aug. 14, but there are plans for two more days of public performances Oct. 19-20.
You've seen her in a popular TV movie, you've read about her life on the prairies, and this summer, audiences heard her sing. The beloved children's book, "Sarah, Plain and Tall," also known as a TV movie that starred Glenn Close, earned glowing reviews in July when its stage-musical form premiered under the auspices of Theatreworks/USA, the not-for-profit family theatre outfit known for its national tours of kid-friendly shows. The production is part of the troupe's Free Summer Theatre initiative.
Sarah, Plain and Tall opened July 17 for a world-premiere run at the Lortel Theatre in Greenwich Village, with free tickets available to all (though the target was family audiences). This is the 14th season of free summer theatre in New York from Theatreworks/USA. Previews began July 11.
The 19th-century-set show is based on the award-winning novel by Patricia MacLachlan, adapted by playwright Julia Jordan, composer Laurence O'Keefe (Bat Boy) and lyricist Nell Benjamin. Joe Calarco directs. The trio of writers previously penned The Mice, one of three short musicals packaged together as 3hree. Audra McDonald has sung a tune from the show, "Is It Me You Want to Kiss?," in her act at Joe's Pub. The story tells of the challenges faced by a young woman who moves away from home to face life on the American prairie in the late 1800s. "The story explores themes of love, loss and ultimately the importance of family," according to production notes.
The cast includes Trisha Jeffrey as Anna, John Lloyd Young as Caleb, Debra Wiseman and Estelle/Maggie, Herndon Lackey as Jacob, Kenneth Boys as Matthew/William and Becca Ayers as Sarah. Michael Greenwood is one of three understudies.
Designers for Sarah, Plain and Tall are Michael Fagin (sets), Anne Kennedy (costumes) and Chris Lee (lighting).
Theatreworks/USA is in its 41st year. The troupe helped launch the careers of Henry Winkler, Judy Kuhn, Daphne Rubin-Vega, F. Murray Abraham. Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's first full production was mounted by Theatreworks/USA before they struck Tony gold with Ragtime.
Tickets to Sarah, Plain and Tall are available on a first come, first-served basis, at the theatre box office on the day of the performance, one hour prior to curtain. The show is recommended for children eight years and older. The Lortel is located at 121 Christopher Street in Greenwich Village. For information, call (212) 627-7373 or visittheatreworksusa.org.
Barbara Pasternack is the artistic director of Theatreworks/USA and Ken Arthur is managing director.
— By Kenneth Jones