Tiny Alice Shrinks to Nothing at Second Stage, Jan. 7

News   Tiny Alice Shrinks to Nothing at Second Stage, Jan. 7 What a difference three-and-a-half decades makes. When Edward Albee’s Tiny Alice first opened in 1964, the playwright had to hold a press conference just to address negative and puzzled critical response to his offbeat drama. Fast forward to the opening, Dec. 5, of Second Stage Theatre’s Off-Broadway revival of the play, and within days of the opening, the producers have announced an extension of the show’s run, due to “overwhelming demand for tickets.”

What a difference three-and-a-half decades makes. When Edward Albee’s Tiny Alice first opened in 1964, the playwright had to hold a press conference just to address negative and puzzled critical response to his offbeat drama. Fast forward to the opening, Dec. 5, of Second Stage Theatre’s Off-Broadway revival of the play, and within days of the opening, the producers have announced an extension of the show’s run, due to “overwhelming demand for tickets.”

Tiny Alice, starring Richard Thomas and Laila Robins, started previews Nov. 16 and was set to close Dec. 24. An initial extension brought to run to Dec. 31. After one more extension, the production will finally close on Jan. 7, 2001.

No doubt a factor in the long run was a strongly positive review in the New York Times (since blown up and hanging in the Second Stage lobby—reading material for theatregoers who patiently wait for scarce standby tickets). Other reviews were mixed, with Newsday’s Linda Winer and Time Out New York's David Cote also strongly recommending the production.

Tiny Alice features Thomas in the lead role of Brother Julian, a man of the church seduced by Alice's (Robins’) sexuality and wealth. The original production of Tiny Alice was presented on Broadway in December 1964, with John Gielgud and Irene Worth under the direction of Alan Schneider. The play was greeted by largely negative reviews, the tone of the notices all the most noteworthy since Alice was Albee's first full-length play since the universally praised Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? In March 1965, Albee took the extraordinary measure of holding a press conference to address critical response.

Co-starring in Second Stage’s revival, which began previews Nov. 16, are John Michael Higgins, Tom Lacy and Stephen Rowe. Higgins, recently in the Christopher Guest film comedy “Best In Show,” was the original Jeffrey in OB’s Jeffrey. Lacy appeared in the National Actors Theatre mounting of Timon of Athens. Designers for Alice are John Arnone on sets, Constance Hoffman on costumes, Donald Holder on lighting and David Budries on sound.

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Back in August 1998, producers Elizabeth McCann and Daryl Roth were planning to revive Albee's complex 1965 drama on Broadway. They had a director, Mark Lamos, and a star, Thomas, who appeared in the show's hit revival at Connecticut's Hartford Stage earlier that year. A female lead proved harder to find, however, and the production never materialized.

Lamos and Thomas stayed with the project, though, and it was eventually scheduled to open the 2000-01 season of Off-Broadway's Second Stage Theatre. Once co-star Robins was chosen, rehearsals began Oct. 17 and an opening night was set.

— By David Lefkowitz