Stage Version of Joyce's Dead to Rise Apr. 1 at NY's Orensanz Center

News   Stage Version of Joyce's Dead to Rise Apr. 1 at NY's Orensanz Center
 
The Richard Nelson-Shaun Davey theatrical adaptation of James Joyce's short story, "The Dead," will begin performances at the Orensanz Center on Apr. 1, with rehearsals beginning in late February.

The Richard Nelson-Shaun Davey theatrical adaptation of James Joyce's short story, "The Dead," will begin performances at the Orensanz Center on Apr. 1, with rehearsals beginning in late February.

Gregory Mosher and Arielle Tepper will produce. No casting has been announced.

Playwright Nelson (New England) will adapt the work, and Jack Hofsiss (The Elephant Man) will direct a cast of 16. The design crew will include Jennifer Tipton (lights) and Jane Greenwood (costumes).

The Lower East Side's Angel Orensanz Foundation Center is fast becoming one of Off-Broadway's more popular new spaces. The former synagogue, built in 1850 by architect Alexander Saeltzer and modeled after the Cathedral of Cologne, was home to the Tyne Daly vehicle Mystery School last spring. Then, last summer, Mandy Patinkin performed his sold-out show Mamaloshen at the center, a production which subsequently transferred to Broadway's Belasco Theatre.

"I think it's the most beautiful space I've seen in America," Mosher told Playbill On-Line. "We're going to put the audience all around the action. The setting will be simple: a platform, a table for dinner and a bed." "The Dead" is taken from Joyce's famous short story collection, "The Dubliners." The story takes place on a winter's evening in Dublin. Two elderly sisters are holding an annual holiday dance and dinner in their house. Among the guests are Gretta and Gabriel Conroy. A song sung at the gathering revives Gretta buried memories of a boy she loved as a teenager and who died young. As Gabriel listens to Gretta relate the tale of her early love, he realizes a man he never knew has had a hold on his wife's imagination for years. Gabriel grapples with the revelation that the dead - even the unknown dead -- never release their hold on the living.

The story was turned into a film in 1987, starring Angelica Huston and Donal McCann, under the direction of John Huston (the film was Huston's last.) As in the film, the theatre piece will feature singing and dancing, though Mosher is reluctant to call The Dead a musical. For now, he refers to it as a "play with music." Shaun Davey, an Irish musician, has composed a dozen songs for the show. In one number, Gretta tells the story of her lost love. The final song of the evening maps the course of Joyce's story's famous last paragraph.

The Dead will play a limited run of at least four months and will not transfer, according to Mosher.

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