With its New York run just finished, Ancestral Voices will soon be back in the tri-State area, as New Jersey’s George Street Playhouse will host the regional premiere of A.R. Gurney’s play, previews beginning April 29 for an opening May 3 and a run through May 28. Artistic director David Saint will stage the piece, which ended its Off-Broadway premiere at Lincoln Center April 3. As with the New York production, the George Street mounting will use rotating casts each week.
“We’re just finalizing the casting,” director Saint told Playbill On-Line (April 18). “It’s just like putting together someone’s wedding. Everyone says, `Ooh, can I sit at that table instead of that one?'”
Well, among those sitting at Gurney’s table the first week will be Frances Sternhagen (The Exact Center of the Universe), George Grizzard (A Delicate Balance), Jack Gilpin and Julie Haggerty (Wifey). The second week will bring Penny Fuller (A New Brain), Tim Daly and his real-life wife, Amy Van Nostrand.
Week three will feature Conrad Bane (TV’s “Maude”), Jane Powell and Roger Bart (You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown).
The fourth week will offer Ma and Pa Walton, Michael Learned and Ralph Waite, as well as “The Wonder Years”' Fred Savage. Among other cast members expected during the run are Michael Gross (the father in TV’s “Family Ties”) and Matthew Fox (Charlie on TV’s “Party of Five”).
In Voices, five actors sit on stage and read the script (making it easy for changing casts) about a family whose lives are turned inside out when young Eddie's grandmother unexpectedly divorces his grandfather to marry the grandfather's best friend.
Currently at George Street, comedic actress Nancy Opel, who came to New York attention in David Ives’ Mere Mortals and has since appeared in Triumph of Love and Encores!’ On a Clear Day, You Can See Forever, costars with Merwin Goldsmith and Richmond Hoxie in Joe Orton’s dark farce Loot, March 25-April 23. The production, directed by company associate artistic director Wendy Liscow, officially opened March 29.
The loot of the farce's title is a stash of cash acquired in a bank robbery by friends Hal and Dennis. In order to protect himself from a snooping detective, Hal plots the perfect hiding place for his ill-gotten gains -- his mother's coffin.
Author Orton is best known for his farcical comedies, Entertaining Mr. Sloane and What the Butler Saw, and for being murdered in 1967 by his lover at the height of his career.
Joining Goldsmith (Grand Hotel) and Hoxie (I’m Not Rappaport) in Loot at George Street are Christopher O’Brien and Greg McFadden. Designing the show are R. Michael Miller (sets), Robert Jared (lighting), Karen A. Ledger (costumes) and Chris Bailey (sound).
Tickets to both plays are available by calling George Street Playhouse, 9 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, at (732) 246-7717.
-- By David Lefkowitz