Horton Foote's The Carpetbagger's Children kicks off the season at the Guthrie Theatre's Lab space, Aug. 3-Sept. 2. Co-produced with Houston’s Alley Theater and the Hartford Stage Company, the play, officially opening Aug. 8, involves the life of a former Union soldier who settles in the south, as told by his daughters in a series of monologues.
The three stars of the Houston and Hartford production, Jean Stapleton, Roberta Maxwell and Hallie Foote, will repeat their roles at the Guthrie, with Hartford Stage's Michael Wilson directing. The show then travels on to CT, Sept. 6-23.
Designing the production are Jeff Cowie (set), David Woolard (costumes), Rui Rita (lighting) and John Gromada (sound).
Though its rare for a Foote play to cause any kind of tumult, The Carpetbagger's Children did have its moment of unanticipated crisis: During the show's run at Houston's Alley, Tropical Storm Allison hit, forcing the Foote drama to vacate the Neuhaus Arena Stage and take shelter at Stages Repertory Theatre, which had already finished its season.
Author Horton Foote won the Pulitzer Prize for The Young Man from Atlanta and two Oscars, for "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Tender Mercies." He was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 1996. Daughter Hallie has performed in several of her father's works, including The Death of Papa and The Last of the Thorntons. Actress Maxwell starred in the national tour of Lettice and Lovage opposite Julie Harris and won Obies for Ashes and Whistle in the Dark. Stapleton is best known for her portrayal of Edith on "All in the Family," but she has oft worked with Foote, playing in The Roads to Home, Night Seasons and The Death of Papa. She's also been touring in the solo vehicle, Eleanor: Her Secret Journey.
The Guthrie Theatre company, embarking on what it calls a “season of firsts,” opened its 2001-02 roster with Amadeus, July 27. Peter Shaffer's fanciful look at the emotional downfall of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart began previews July 21 and runs to Aug. 26.
Artistic director Joe Dowling directs the comedy-drama, which is told mostly through the perspective of fellow court composer Antonio Salieri. The series of flashbacks portrays Salieri near the end of his life as he “fears that God has abandoned him due to his angry attempts to destroy his competitor.” Intuitively understanding Mozart's great gifts doesn't stop Salieri from trying to downgrade Mozart's position at the court and ruin his reputation as a Freemason.
Charles Janasz stars as Salieri, T.R. Knight (Guthrie’s production of Eugene O'Neill's Ah, Wilderness! ) stars as Mozart, and Amanda Detmer plays Mozart's wife, Costanze. Also in the cast are Richard S. Iglewski, Nathaniel Fuller, John Tillotson, Richard Ooms, Jim Lichtscheidl , Kris L. Nelson, Robert O. Berdahl, Michael Booth, Michael Tezla, Paul Doepke, Suzanne Warmanen and Laura Esping. Designing the show are Patrick Clark (set), Paul Tazewell (costumes), Christopher Akerlind (lighting), Scott W. Edwards (sound) and Michael Lupu (dramaturg).
The original 1979 London production of Amadeus won the Evening Standard Award, while the Broadway premiere won the Best Play Tony. A recent Broadway revival starring David Suchet was not so well received. Other Shaffer works include Lettice and Lovage, Black Comedy and Equus.
For tickets ($16-$44) and information Amadeus at the Guthrie, 725 Vineland Place in Minneapolis, call (612) 377-2224.
As for the rest of the Guthrie season, eight contemporary plays and a holiday classic comprise the roster. In a prepared statement artistic director Dowling said, “The mainstage season will bring together the works of contemporary dramatists from England and Ireland together with classics from Shakespeare and Molière, as well as a masterpiece from one of America's greatest playwrights.”
Former Long Wharf artistic director Doug Hughes travels to the Guthrie to helm noted Irish author Hugh Leonard's Da, beginning Sept. 28. Hughes directed She Stoops to Conquer at the Guthrie in 1996. Production notes describe Da, the Tony Award-winning best play of 1978, as “a delightful and humorous exploration of the contradictory and seemingly impassable rift that separates a man from his father.”
The Guthrie stages Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol Nov. 16-Dec. 30. The holiday production will mark the 27th consecutive Guthrie staging of the Christmas classic.
Guthrie will stage William Shakespeare's tragedy Antony and Cleopatra for this first time, Jan. 19-Feb. 24, 2002. Mark Lamos directs Laila Robins (Guthrie’s Hedda Gabler and Summer and Smoke) as Cleopatra.
Michael Bogdanov and Jeffrey Hatcher’s new play with music, Speak Easy, or The Bootleg Gentleman runs March 30-April 28, 2002. Based on Molière's comedy, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, the adaptation deals with “a businessman determined to buy his way into the privileges of high society in 1930’s gangland Chicago.” Bogdanov directs.
Tennessee Williams' Camino Real gets its first Guthrie staging, May 11-June 9, 2002. Rarely produced, Camino Real will be directed by Michael Kahn, the artistic director of the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C. According to production notes “the real and the imaginary converge and freely play off each other, as a down-on-his-luck boxer meets a group of larger-than-life characters, including Lord Byron, Casanova and Don Quixote.”
Guthrie associate artistic director John Miller-Stephany (Guthrie’s Sweeney Todd) returns to helm Merrily We Roll Along which runs (Oct. 11-Nov. 18. First staged on Broadway in 1981, the Stephen Sondheim and George Furth musical “chronicles the ups and downs of an artistic friendship facing the temptations and perils of success.”
The Guthrie Lab season wraps up with Lee Blessing's Thief River (Feb. 15-March 10, 2002). Ethan McSweeny directs the story of “two Midwestern young men from 1950 through 2005 as they try to learn who they really are.” McSweeny directed Guthrie Lab’s 2000 production of Side Man.
Guthrie on Tour will also present Eugene O'Neill's Ah, Wilderness! in various cities and towns “across the upper Midwest” from February to May 2002. Douglas C. Wager directs the story of delicate family relations; the set design is by Ming Cho Lee.
Season subscriptions to the Guthrie Theater range from $70-$195 (mainstage) and $53-$83 for the Guthrie Lab. Single tickets are $16-$44 (mainstage) and $18-$35 for (Guthrie Lab). The Guthrie Theater box office is located at 725 Vineland Place, Minneapolis. For information call (612) 377-2224 or toll-free (877) 44 STAGE. Single tickets can also be purchased online at www.guthrietheater.org.
—By David Lefkowitz