Nineteen years ago, Sam Shepard's Curse Of The Starving Class opened Off-Broadway at the Public Theatre. The dark comedy looked at the Tate family struggling to make it on a run-down farm in a country being sold off by developers. Shepard's look at the American Dream will come back to the Public -- this time under the auspices of a different theatre group: Signature Theatre Company, who have devoted an entire season to the works of Shepard.
Beginning previews April 15 and opening April 27, Curse Of The Starving Class plays at the Susan Stein Shiva Theatre and concludes the Signature's Shepard season, which also offered a revised revival of Tooth Of Crime, and the one-act evening, The Sad Lament Of Pecos Bill On The Eve Of Killing His Wife / Killer's Head / Action.
Starring in Starving Class are Gretchen Cleevely, Jude Ciccolella, Deborah Hedwall, Jack R. Marks, Clark Middleton, Kevin Carrigan, Joe Caruso, Don Creech and Paul Dawson. Signature artistic director James Houghton directs the piece, which has sets by E. David Cosier, costumes by Teresa Snider-Stein, lighting by Jeffrey S. Koger, and sound by Red Ramona.
Shepard is the sixth playwright to be honored by Signature Theatre Company's full-season treatment. Others include Edward Albee, Adrienne Kennedy, Romulus Linney and Horton Foote, whose Young Man From Atlanta won the Pulitzer Prize after being staged at Signature (but before it recently reached Broadway with a different cast). Signature will devote its next season to Arthur Miller.
Other plays by Sam Shepard include Icarus' Mother (1965), States Of Shock (1991), Buried Child (1979) and Fool For Love (1982). For tickets ($25) and information on Curse Of The Starving Class, running through May 25 at the Public Theatre, call (212) 239-6200.
--By David Lefkowitz