Program A at Off-Broadway's Minetta Lane Theatre will include Frances Sternhagen starring in Waiting for the Telegram as a permanent feature through June 28 only. For bargain hunters and fans of choice acting, that means four plays for the price of three.
In the Sternhagen play, "a 95-year-old woman experiences a new life's love and loss, and recalls another from her past." She'll share the bill with Christine Ebersole, Kathleen Chalfant and Brenda Wehle.
The new summer schedule for the plays is 8 PM Monday Saturday, 3 PM Wednesday and Saturday. Each program gets four performances a week.
Coinciding with the schedule change, on June 2, a panel of people associated with Talking Heads will discuss the experience at the 92nd Street Y, with Leonard Lopate as moderator. The participants include producer Tom Hulce and performers Lynn Redgrave, Daniel Davis and Valerie Mahaffey (all from Program B, as Program A performs June 2).
The panel will be seen 8 PM at the 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington, between 91st and 92nd Streets. Talking Heads won the 2003 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Play, the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Ensemble Achievement, the Drama Desk Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play (Lynn Redgrave) and six Obie Awards for the cast of the plays.
The New York premiere of Alan Bennett's six-play, two sittings theatrical experience known as Talking Heads has had people talking since it opened April 6. Interest has been so high in recent weeks that the producers announced the limited 16-week run was being expanded to an open run.
Kathleen Chalfant, Daniel Davis, Christine Ebersole, Valerie Mahaffey, Lynn Redgrave and Brenda Wehle star in the New York staging of the six monologues, or "solo pieces," as they're being billed. The solo works now total seven, since Frances Sternhagen was added to the mix as a floating addition, to replace some shows when performers were absent (or, in the case of June shows, augmenting an evening).
Sternhagen's monologue appeared several times in April, including the opening day, April 6.
The two alternating programs are directed by Michael Engler. Talking Heads, first seen on British television and later staged by Engler in Los Angeles, began previews at the Minetta Lane Theatre March 22.
Minetta Lane Theatre is at 18 Minetta Lane, just east of Sixth Avenue, one block south of West Third Street.
The works got a boost when Roundabout added the show to its season, allowing a flood of 27,000 theatregoers to attend one of the two works between May 6 and Aug. 24, further stimulating word of mouth. Similarly, Manhattan Ensemble Theatre offered the works to its subscribers as the final selection of its season.
Talking Heads is presented by Plymouth Projects (Tom Hulce and Julia Rask), Ron Kastner, Daryl Roth, Cheryl Wiesenfeld, Margaret Cotter, Amy Nederlander and Scott Nederlander.
The plays are:
The Hand of God (performed by Brenda Wehle): "Even in the cheapened era of eBay and Antiques Road Show, nothing can diminish Celia's expert appreciation of fine antiques. Nothing, that is, but the Hand of God."
A Lady of Letters (performed by Christine Ebersole): "A compulsive letter writer interferes in what she wrongly perceives as a local case of child abuse."
Bed Among the Lentils (performed by Kathleen Chalfant): "A reluctant minister's wife discovers her salvation from a surprising source."
Waiting for the Telegram (performed by Frances Sternhagen): "A 95-year-old woman experiences a new life's love and loss, and recalls another from her past."
Her Big Chance (performed by Valerie Mahaffey): "Leslie thinks she has a great deal to offer, both as an actress and a person, and when she gets her 'big chance,' offer she does."
A Chip in the Sugar (performed by Daniel Davis): "A middle-aged man, still living with his widowed mother, finds himself playing second fiddle to an old suitor of hers who comes back into her life."
Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet (performed by Lynn Redgrave) "charts a middle class woman's first tentative steps from willful innocence to a deeper understanding of life and the world."
Tickets range $35-$65 and are available by calling (212) 307-4100 or the Minetta Lane Theatre at (212) 420-8000, or in-person at the Minetta Lane Theatre Box Office at 18 Minetta Lane (Greenwich Village).
A two-performance package deal (for Programs A and B) is available for $100 when both programs are purchased simultaneously, either in person or over the phone (offer not applicable to online purchases).
For further information, visit www.talkingheadsoffbroadway.com.