Recent Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award winner Ruby Dee plays a wise but controversial old woman in St. Lucy's Eyes, opening April 12 at the Women's Project Theatre Off Broadway. Good news came for the show the day before the opening: Bridgette A. Wimberley's drama has already extended a week past its originally-intended finish. Previews began March 28, and the world premiere will now run to April 29, according to Springer/Chicoine office spokespersons.
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. Joining her 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 $36. The Women's Project & Productions Theatre (formerly Theatre Four) is located at 424 West 55th Street. For reservations, call (212) 239-6200.
Founded in 1978 by current Artistic Director Julia Miles, Women's Projects and Playwrights is a non-profit Off-Broadway theatre dedicated to the development of new plays by women. Recent productions include Marlane Meyer's The Chemistry of Change, Joan Vail Thorne's The Exact Center of the Universe with Frances Sternhagen, Karen Hartman's Gum with Daphne Rubin-Vega and Jule Jensen's Two Headed with Lizbeth Mackay.
-- By Christine Ehren