Top Secret, Drama of the Pentagon Papers, Opens in NYC; Pine, Bryggman, Strauss and More Star

News   Top Secret, Drama of the Pentagon Papers, Opens in NYC; Pine, Bryggman, Strauss and More Star Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers, the new docudrama about the landmark decision by the Washington Post to publish details about U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, opens March 9 at New York Theatre Workshop's home in the East Village.
Kathryn Meisle and Peter Strauss
Kathryn Meisle and Peter Strauss Photo by Joan Marcus

Larry Pine, Peter Strauss, Kathryn Meisle and Larry Bryggman are featured in the actor-driven work, which began previews Off-Broadway Feb. 24.

John Rubinstein directs the fact-based play by Geoffrey Cowan and Leroy Aarons. New York Theatre Workshop co-produces the work with L.A. Theatre Works and Affinity Collaborative Theater. Performances continue to March 29.

"It's 1971 and the nation is at war," according to production notes. "The intractable conflict escalates in Vietnam while here at home the battle for public opinion rages. A federal court blocks The New York Times from publishing the top-secret history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham has a single day to decide whether to print these documents, which quickly became known as the Pentagon Papers. When the Nixon administration closes in and charges treason, the fight for a free press explodes."

Cowan and Aarons' work — based on interviews and documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act — features a cast of 11 representing the real-life characters at the center of this historic event. (For more information, visit topsecretplay.org.)

The Off-Broadway cast includes Diane Adair (as Meg Greenfield), Larry Bryggman (John Mitchell/Chal Roberts/Lamont Vanderhall), John Getz (Ben Bagdikian/Robert Mardian), Jack Gilpin (Brian Kelly), James Gleason (Murry Marder/Judge Martin Peel), Kathryn Meisle (Katharine Graham), Matt McGrath (George Wilson/Eugene Patterson), Larry Pine (Richard Nixon/Dennis Doolin), Russell Soder (Soldier/Darryl Cox/Clerk & Bailiff/Ron Ziegler), Peter Strauss (Ben Bradlee) and Peter Van Norden (Fritz Beebe/Henry Kissinger). Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers was first developed and produced by L.A.T.W.

The design team includes David Lander (set and lighting) and Holly Poe Durbin (costume). The production stage manager is Jennifer Grutza.

Writer Cowan is professor of journalism and law and dean of the Annenberg School for Communication at USC. He founded the Center for Law and Social Policy, a public interest agency which has represented civil rights groups, women's organizations, labor unions, and environmentalists in landmark FCC proceedings.

Writer Aarons was an editor and a national correspondent for the Washington Post, serving as the New York bureau chief and later establishing the paper's first Los Angeles bureau. He is the founder of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA).

NYTW is located at 79 East Fourth Street. For tickets, call (212) 460-5475. For more information visit nytw.org.

Jack Gilpin, Matt McGrath, Kathryn Meisle, Peter Van Norden and Peter Strauss in <i>Top Secret</i>
Jack Gilpin, Matt McGrath, Kathryn Meisle, Peter Van Norden and Peter Strauss in Top Secret Photo by Joan Marcus