The Steppenwolf Theater Company's Studio space will unveil its latest offering on Jan. 20, when Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros' new play, The Ordinary Yearning of Miriam Buddwing, officially opens. Anna D. Shapiro will direct the piece, which was commissioned by Steppenwolf. Previews began Jan. 11 for a run through Feb. 11.
Frustrated housewife Miriam Budding doesn't know where to turn at home. Her husband is dying in the next room — and taking a bit too long about it — and his Equadorian nurse thinks she has seen the Virgin Mary. As for her children, one son is a poet holed up, Walden-like, in the woods; another son is a cop a little too enamored of his gun; and her sole daughter harbors dreams of becoming a lounge singer.
My Thing of Love, a previous work by the playwright (then under the name Alexandra Gersten), reached Broadway's Martin Beck Theatre in 1995.
In other Steppenwolf news, Austin Pendleton, Sally Murphy, Jeff Perry, Rondi Reed and Mariann Mayberry — all Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble members — will fill the lead roles in its 2001 production of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. The play, staged by Sheldon Patinkin, will run June 14- July 15, 2001, at the Steppenwolf Studio space. Pendleton is well versed in the role of the long-suffering Vanya, who has wasted his life serving his pompous brother-in-law, an eminent but vacuous professor. He's played the role a couple times, most notably in a production at New York City's CSC Repertory in the mid-80s. Pendleton most recently appeared at Steppenwolf in Valparaiso, at the same time, his play Orson's Shadow was being staged in the theatre's Garage space.
Murphy will be the professor's young, beautiful wife, Elena. Murphy recently played a zonked-out partygoer in Broadway's The Wild Party. Other Broadway credits include Carousel and The Grapes of Wrath. Perry, a founder of the company, will be Dr. Astrov.
Both Anton Chekhov the playwright and Anton Chekhov the short story writer are represented in the 2000-01 studio season at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago.
The season began with Frank Galati's dramatization of Chekhov's story, "The Duel." The European Repertory Company production, directed by Luda Lopatina, and starring Robert Breuler, ran Oct. 12-Nov. 12 (opening Oct. 21). A very Chekhovian story, The Duel concerns Ivan, who is bored with life and his mistress (natch) and longs to escape to St. Petersburg (natch, again), but instead finds himself engaged in a duel.
Season tickets are $48-$82. Steppenwolf is located on 1650 Halsted Street.