As Broadway readies for a 50th anniversary production of Arthur Miller's All My Sons, Chicago is gearing up for Steppenwolf's 50th anniversary production of Tennessee Williams' classic, A Streetcar Named Desire. The drama, opening May 4, will be directed by Steppenwolf co-founder Terry Kinney and star film and theatre actor Gary Sinese as Williams' avatar of brute force, Stanley Kowalski.
Sinise, who is one of the theatre's founders and a member of the theatre's three-member executive artistic board, was nominated for a 1995 Best Supporting Actor Oscar in Forrest Gump, and for a Best Director of a Play Tony Award as director of Buried Child. Streetcar will mark his first acting assignment at the Steppenwolf since 1988 when he starred as Tom Joad in the adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath that won a Tony Award as Best Play when the production transferred to Broadway.
Kathryn Erbe, seen on Broadway in The Speed Of Darkness, The Grapes Of Wrath and My Thing Of Love (the latter two were transfers from Steppenwolf) will play Stanley's wife, Stella. Laila Robins, recently seen Off-Broadway and around the country in Mrs. Klein, will star as faded flower Blanche DuBois.
Williams' masterpiece follows the emotional maelstrom that ensues when Blanche coems to live with Stanley and Stella in their New Orleans tenement. "I'm hoping to bring our audience a version of this American classic that is both faithful and new," said director Kinney. "We hope to find fresh truths in this well-known story."
Kinney, who starred as Tilden in the recent Broadway revival of Buried Child, has directed Of Mice And Men and A Clockwork Orange at Steppenwolf. Sinese is now best known for his role in filmdom's Forrest Gump, but he also played Tom Joad in the aforementioned 1988 Grapes Of Wrath. Robins starred opposite Jeremy Irons in Broadway's The Real Thing.
Steppenwolf veteran (Slaughterhouse Five Rick Snyder will play Steve; John C. Reilly is Mitch. Also featured are Amy Morton, John C. Seda, Audrey Morgan, Mike Sassone, Kirsten Fitzgerald, Krishna Le Fan and Sandra Marquez.
Designers for Streetcar include Robert Brill (set), Kevin Rigdon (lighting), Laura Cunningham (costumes), and Rob Milburn (sound). Michele Volansky will serve as dramaturg.
Special events coinciding with the production include a free, post-show lecture by Northwestern University professor emeritus Dr. Leland Roloff (June 11) and an appearance by Gary Sinese at a fundraising breakfast sponsored by his fan club, Gary's Web International. Proceeds of the May 17 event, which costs $50 and features Sinese speaking, signing autographs and posing for photos, will benefit Steppenwolf.
For what's playing now, tickets ($24.50-$27.50 previews; $31.50-$36.50 regular) and information on A Streetcar Named Desire, on the Steppenwolf Theatre Mainstage April 23-June 15, call (312) 335-1650 or refer to the regional listing on Playbill On-Line.
--By David Lefkowitz