Sledgehammer Theatre's production of Nicky Silver's My Marriage to Marisa Tomei will close its run on June 28. The show started previews May 16 and was scheduled to run to June 14 but was recently extended. Reviews of the show, initially presented under the original title My Marriage to Ernest Borgnine, had been positive, leading Variety columnist Army Archerd to phone the real Borgnine (of Marty and From Here to Eternity fame) with excerpts.
A week later, Borgnine's lawyer called Sledgehammer to threaten legal action. In response, executive director Ethan Feerst mustered all his courage...and backed down. "We don't feel there is a burning first amendment issue here," he said in a statement. Rather than battle the former husband of Ethel Merman, Silver renamed the piece, My Marriage To Marisa Tomei. "Given that the play really has nothing to do with Ernest Borgnine, both Nicky Silver and I feel this is a perfectly fine response."
Silver's "psycho-sexual comedy" concerns a troubled teenager and his troubled psychiatrist and features such characters as a deranged killer and a budding Lolita.
Starring in the rechristened Tomei are Diane Addis, Michael Douglas Hummel, Julie Jacobs, Dale Morris and Brian Salmon. Designing the show are David Ledsinger (set), Peter Smith (lighting), Michele Short (costumes) and Jeff Ladman (sound).
Silver's connection to Sledgehammer comes through director Bryan Bevell, artistic director of the Fritz Theatre, where he staged Silver's Fat Men In Skirts. He also helmed Silver's Free Will and Wanton Lust at Sledgehammer. Sledgehammer Theatre was established in 1985 by Scott Feldsher, Ethan Feerst, and Robert Brill. Over the past 12 years, the company has gained a reputation for producing large shows on small budgets and their intense dedication to new voices in American Theatre. It has introduced new works by such acclaimed playwrights as Mac Wellman, Erik Ehn, Kelly Stuart, and Charles Mee.
Other Silver works include Pterodactyls, Raised In Captivity, Fat Men In Skirts and The Food Chain.
For tickets and information on My Marriage To Marisa Tomei at the Sledgehammer Theatre, 1620 6th Ave., call (619) 544-1484.
Completely by coincidence, the real Marisa Tomei herself will also be closing the same day; her Broadway play, Wait Until Dark also gives its final performance June 28.