Despite his being deceased, dramatist, composer and bon vivant Noel Coward is again popular in New York City. Last season Broadway saw a revival of Design for Living (in honor of Coward's centennial); this season Private Lives transfers from London to Broadway and, yes, thirty years after he has passed away, Coward will receive a world premiere staging of his neglected Long Island Sound.
The Actors Company Theatre stages the never-performed comedy May 10 with Simon Jones, recently of Passion Play and Waiting in the Wings. Opening night at the American Theatre of Actors is May 13.
Based on Coward's short story, "What Mad Pursuit," Long Island Sound strands an Englishman in the middle of a group of rich hobnobbers on the North Shore of Long Island, circa 1947. While Coward sought to have the play performed in London, impressario Binkie Beaumont decided that an American-oriented play by the very British playwright would never work on the West End. Long Island Sound passed into obscurity and was only rediscovered by archivist Barry Day in 1999.
Coward's best-known works include Blithe Spirit, Present Laughter and Hay Fever. Born in 1899, Coward was knighted by the Queen in 1970, three years before his death in his beloved tropical home in Jamaica.
Joining Jones in the cast are Delphi Harrington, Cynthia Harris, Jack Koenig (The Voysey Inheritance), Darrie Lawrence, Greg McFadden, James Murtaugh (Two Shakespearean Actors, Other People's Money), Margaret Nichols and Scott Schafer. The Actors Company Theatre co-artistic director Scott Alan Evans directs. TACT was founded in 1992 to present neglected or rarely produced plays of literary merit with a focus on creating a theatre from its essence. Most recently, they staged J.B. Priestley's Time and the Conways at the New York Historical Society in November. Other recentlly produced works include Ketti Frings' adaptation of Thomas Wolfe's novel, "Look Homeward Angel" (Jan. 18-22, 2002) and G.B. Shaw's comedy-drama, Widowers' Houses (March 8-11, 2002).
Tickets are $50. The American Theatre of Actors (the pre-Bway home of Urinetown) is located at 314 West 54th St. For more information call (212) 645-TACT or check out their website at www.tactnyc.org.
— By Christine Ehren
and David Lefkowitz