When Wit made its Washington DC premiere March 2 at the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theatre, it arrived with more than a name star and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama: It came with an advance box office of $1 million.
It leaves March 26 with a sold-out final weekend. There are no tickets for the Thursday-Sunday performances starring Judith Light. The sky-high pre-sale at the 1,100-set Eisenhower was considered huge for a non-musical national touring production, and the boom is partly due to the Pulitzer cachet and the casting of TV actress Light, as a literature professor facing cancer. The pre-opening intake set a box office record for plays at the Kennedy Center.
Previews began there Feb. 29.
The late Derek Anson Jones' unsentimental directorial vision for playwright Margaret Edson's tough, humor-laced drama is being maintained for the national tour. Jones was born in Washington, DC, where he attended Sidwell Friends School, the place he first met future playwright Edson. They were lifelong pals and, eventually, collaborators.
Jones died Jan. 17 in New York City, of complications from AIDS. That same week, previews for the Los Angeles Geffen Playhouse staging began, starring the Kathleen Chalfant, who starred in the play Off-Broadway, when it won the Pulitzer. That run ended March 5, prior to Chalfant flying to London for the British premiere March 27 at the Vaudeville Theatre.
The New York production at the Union Square Theatre, starring Lisa Harrow, closes April 9.
The national tour's Light is best known for her work on TV's "Who's the Boss" and "One Life to Live," and worked regionally in Milwaukee and Seattle before making her Broadway debut in A Doll's House with Liv Ullman.
-- By Kenneth Jones