"How to Succeed in Playwriting" seems to be writer and first-time playwright Anne Nelson's new idea as her first stage offering The Guys will debut in Los Angeles July 10-28. The production which began at New York City's Flea Theatre will play the West Coast at The Actors' Gang with stars Tim Robbins and Helen Hunt.
Robbins, who serves as The Actors' Gang artistic director, has starred in the production in Manhattan's Flea. As an actor, Robbins has been seen in films such as "Bull Durham," "The Hudsucker Proxy," "The Shawshank Redemption" and "The Player." Also a screenwriter-director, Robbins penned and helmed the film versions of "Cradle Will Rock," "Bob Roberts" and "Dead Man Walking."
Hunt is best known for her work in television and film, but has seen the stage in Broadway's Twelfth Night and Our Town revival as well as the Off Broadway Public Theatre/New York Shakespeare Festival's The Taming of the Shrew. Her screen credits include "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," "Project X," "Bob Roberts (with Robbins)," "Twister" and her Academy Award-winning turn in "As Good As It Gets." She also played opposite Paul Reiser for her seven-year stint on TV's "Mad About You."
No word on whether the production will follow the lead of the New York run — rotating casts with stars. However, according to The Actors' Gang website, future casts are to be announced. Founded in 1981, The Actors’ Gang has produced 68 plays and won over 100 awards. Most recently, the group produced the L.A. premiere of The Exonerated, which also played New York with a star-studded cast which included Robbins.
For tickets and information on The Guys at The Actors’ Gang, 6209 Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood, CA, call (323) 465-0566 extension 15. Tickets are also available online at www.theactorsgang.com.
The Guys, based on scribe Nelson's real experiences, is a dialogue between a New York City fire captain — who has lost most of his men in the Sept. 11 attack — and an editor who helps him write the eulogies, as she struggles to come to terms with the event. Both find out, as quoted from the text, "We have no idea what wonders lie hidden in the people around us."
The rotating casts of big name stars have lifted the little-known Off-Off Broadway troupe headed up by artistic director Jim Simpson to headlines. Following a workshop in December 2001 at the Bat's 80-seat venue, the play by first-time playwright Nelson, returned in January with Bill Murray and Sigourney Weaver (Simpson's wife) in the leads. Subsequent performers included Bill Irwin, Anthony LaPaglia, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Tom Wopat, Amy Irving and Swoosie Kurtz. The upcoming cast features Carol Kane and Stephen Lang.
Bat artistic director Jim Simpson helms the work. Costumes are by Claudia Brown, set and lights are by Kyle Chepulis.
The play's not the only thing for this little-show-that-could. ContentFilm has signed on to finance, produce and distribute the screen version of the play starring Weaver and LaPaglia. Bat-man Simpson, who directed the play, adapted the screen version with some additions and will also take the helm for the film.
The Guys will also hit bookshelves in August as the play will be published by Random House. The paperback will also include two new essays by Nelson and photos from the theatrical production.
The hot tickets are $55. Limited $15 tickets for firemen and Port Authority workers with ID. Rush Tickets ($25) are sold on the same day, based on availability. The Flea is at 41 White Street in Tribeca. For reservations, call (212) 206-1515 or visit www.thebat.com.
— by Ernio Hernandez