Will The Vagina Monologues play in Peoria? Hard to say, but another, slightly larger Illinois city, Chicago, has had a look at Eve Ensler's work, which is quickly becoming a national phenomenon. TVM played a five-week engagement at the Apollo Theatre, which began Sept. 24 and will end on Oct. 29.
Next stop on the three-city national tour is San Francisco, beginning Halloween, Oct. 31.
The Vagina Monologues has been a hit at New York City's Westside Theatre since last fall. A tandem mounting at Los Angeles' Canon Theatre began on Oct. 13. As in New York, the L.A. mounting features a new trio of actresses every three weeks. The inaugural threesome was Rosie Perez, Julie Kavner and Julianna Margulies, all of whom have appeared in the Off Broadway version.
The Vagina Monologues began its Gotham engagement with author actress Ensler handling all the acting duties. Vagina reveals a series of different women's stories and experiences involving their genitalia. The piece was born when playwright Ensler realized that her work, mostly about women, was missing a physiological connection. Ensler told PBOL,"I couldn't be thinking about [liberating women] without thinking about vaginas. I wanted to know about what women were feeling about their vaginas. As I talked to women, I was so awed and amazed by what people were telling me that I began to think, 'there's a [theatre] piece here.'"
Ensler stayed with the show until early 2000, after which the actress tag teams took over. The initial trio -- featuring Kavner, Kurtz and Audra McDonald -- began on Feb. 8. Recently, the booking period grew from a two-week to a three-week stay. The Canon production follows the three week model. Future casts are to be announced. The tour, meanwhile, features Ensler herself. Following Chicago, she will travel to San Francisco's Alcazar Theater (Oct. 31-Dec. 3) and Boston's Wilbur Theatre (March 20-April 1, 2001).
--By Robert Simonson