Mr. Pim Passes By, a comedy for grownups by the author of Winnie the Pooh, begins previews on Dec. 4 at the Mint Theatre Company in NY.
The theatre's artistic director, Jonathan Bank, is the director.
A.A. Milne (1882-1956) may be best known for his tales of Christopher Robin, Pooh Bear, Tigger and company, but he was also quote devoted to the theatre. As a matter of fact, in 1918 he resigned from his job as an editor of the satirical magazine Punch to concentrate on writing plays. (He had experienced a bit of success the previous year when his first play, Wurzel-Flummery, was performed in London on a triple bill with two works by his good friend J.M. Barrie).
The original production of Mr. Pim Passes By was presented in London in 1920 by Darley George "Dot" Boucicault (son of the famed playwright Dion Boucicault), who himself played the role of Carraway Pim -- an absent-minded old man who inadvertently leads a young couple to believe that the wife's first husband, who is some six years deceased, is actually alive and well. The Times of London gushed about the original production (in which a young Leslie Howard played the role of the artist, Brian Strange), calling it "one of the best plays in modern drama" with "tremendous implications -- a whole philosophy of life and love."
The play arrived on Broadway the following season in a 1921 Theatre Guild production featuring Dudley Digges, Laura Hope Crews and Erskine Sanford as Mr. Pim. Once again, the reviews were good. Still, Mr. Pim somehow went the way of the Model T.
Director Jonathan Bank said in a recent interview that his production of Milne's pre-Pooh piece is part of the Mint Theatre's efforts to "rescue worthy plays arbitrarily shelved by the whims of fate."
The cast of the current production includes Lisa M. Bostnar, Alice Cannon, Ken Kliban, Jennifer Mello, Ian Merrill Peakes, Bill Roulet as Mr. Pim and Kim Wimmer.
Performances are scheduled through Jan. 11 at the Mint Theatre Company, 311 W. 43rd St. For tickets, call (212) 315-9434.
--By Rebecca Paller