Had the Broadway theatre game of musical chairs worked out a bit differently this season, Cheryl L. West’s comedy-drama Jar the Floor might very well have wound up at the Longacre Theatre in February. However, the tight squeeze for theatres left Jar out in the cold, and the show has been one of many hovering over the Street but unable to get a seat. (Elaine May’s Taller Than a Dwarf will be the next Longacre tenant.)
But Jar the Floor, which had a hit run at Off-Broadway’s Second Stage Theatre, is not dead, according to producer Roy Gabay. "We’re now definitely looking at Off-Broadway," he told Playbill On-Line, "and should a theatre become available, we’ll go in. But it won’t be this season." Gabay, who is also co-producing The Laramie Project, had no time frame for when an Off-Broadway door would become ajar for Jar.
In Fall 1999, Second Stage marketing associate David Henderson told Playbill On-Line that lead producers Liz McCann and Roy Gabay were juggling between Broadway and Off-Broadway for the remount. A representative for Lynne Thigpen, who starred in the show, said a Broadway engagement beginning February 2000, possibly at the Longacre Theatre, was being discussed. The spokesman said it was hoped Thigpen would reprise her role, though talks had not yet begun.
Producer McCann told Playbill On-Line (Nov. 15, 1999) Broadway was definitely the target, but no announcement would be made until a Shubert theatre came available. Jar the Floor, the latest by playwright Cheryl L. West (Holiday Heart), had an extended run at Second Stage July 28-Sept. 12, 1999, officially opening there Aug. 16. The play was directed by Marion McClinton and featured Regina Taylor, Irma P. Hall, Thigpen, Linda Powell and Welker White who are expected to be on hand for the commercial run.
Author West has a history at Second Stage, which previously mounted her Before It Hits Home. Though Jar the Floor has been around for several years and received many regional productions (including seven featuring Hall), the summer production marked its New York premiere. West reportedly made substantial revisions to the script in preparation for the Second Stage production.
The play looks at four generations of African-American women who gather to celebrate the family's great grandmother's 90th birthday. The connections between the various mothers and daughters are exposed when the youngest member of the clan arrives with an unexpected guest.
Taylor, a playwright herself, has appeared Off-Broadway in The Illusion and A Map of the World. Her own plays include Escape from Paradise. On television, she starred in the well-regarded series "I'll Fly Away."
Thigpen is a stage veteran, winning a Tony nomination for the musical Tintypes and the award itself for her portrayal of a Jewish, black professional experiencing a mid-life meltdown in Wendy Wasserstein's An American Daughter. Her many film credits include "The Paper" and "Tootsie."
McClinton is best known for his extensive work with playwright August Wilson. He most recently directed Wilson's Jitney at several theatres across the nation and will stage the show again at Second Stage in mid-April 2000, after a run at the Mark Taper Forum, which is co producing.
--By David Lefkowitz