Will Meara’s Garden Paths Lead Off-Broadway Soon?

News   Will Meara’s Garden Paths Lead Off-Broadway Soon? After a successful mounting at New Jersey's George Street Playhouse, Anne Meara's second play, Down the Garden Paths, had an equally potent -- and mostly sold-out -- run at Connecticut's Long Wharf Theatre. New York would have seemed like the next obvious step, but there’s been a season-long logjam for theaters on and Off-Broadway.

After a successful mounting at New Jersey's George Street Playhouse, Anne Meara's second play, Down the Garden Paths, had an equally potent -- and mostly sold-out -- run at Connecticut's Long Wharf Theatre. New York would have seemed like the next obvious step, but there’s been a season-long logjam for theaters on and Off-Broadway.

The congestion seems to have eased a bit in the past two weeks, what with closings at the Douglas Fairbanks Theatre (The Big Bang), The Lucille Lortel Theatre (Suite In Two Keys) and The Century Center (Family Week). No word yet, however, on which, if any might be right for Garden Paths.

Director David Saint told Playbill On-Line that the producers (Elliot Martin, Roy Gabay, NJ’s George Street Theatre and CT’s Long Wharf Theatre) are currently discussing the options, and that a decision “determining what theatre is best...would have to be done rather soon.” Back in late March, according to George Street spokesperson Gabriel Shanks, director Saint and the Long Wharf-George Street cast assembled for two brief stagings in Florida, first at Fort Lauderdale’s Parker Playhouse (March 24-26) and then at Palm Beach’s Royal Poinciana (March 28-April 2). The hope was that by the time the runs were done, a New York house would come available.

The timeline is especially crunched, not just because of the difficulty of reassembling the cast in the fall, but because Saint is supposed to be directing Arthur Laurents’ Jolson Sings Again around that time as well. Saint previously staged Meara’s After-Play in New York and around the country, and he’s busy directing the regional premiere of Ancestral Voices at George Street.

“It’s a waiting game,” spokesperson Shanks told Playbill On-Line (March 22). “We’ve got a small window to find space in New York. Hopefully we can resolve something.” *

Down the Garden Paths started NJ previews Jan. 19 and opened Jan. 26. The story of a family gathering to celebrate the latest novel by an award winning author, Down the Garden Paths features an on-film cameo by Meara's real-life husband, Jerry Stiller, playing Herschel Strange, a quantum physicist. Stiller and Meara's real-life daughter, Amy Stiller (Sharon Garden/Jodie Garden), is also in the show. And adding further to the show's familial undercurrent are true life couple Eli Wallach (Sid Garden) and Anne Jackson (Stella Dempsey Garden), joined by their daughter, Roberta Wallach (Claire Shayne/Claire Garden). Supporting cast members include Michael Countryman (Max Garden), Angela Pietropinto (Professor Cramer), John Procaccino (Arthur Garden) and Ann McDonough (Liz Garden).

Jackson and Wallach have appeared together in such shows as Twice Around the Park and the recent Tennessee Williams Remembered. The younger Wallach received a Drama Desk nomination for playing the hellishly unpleasant daughter in Donald Margulies' The Model Apartment.

Designing The Garden Paths at George Street were Michael Elliott (lighting, replacing Howell Binkley, who was busy on Minnelli on Minnelli), James Youmans (set), Chris Bailey (sound) and David Murin (costumes).

-- By David Lefkowitz
and Christine Ehren