When Wit makes its Washington DC premiere March 2 at the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theatre, it will arrive with more than a name star and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama: It comes with an advance box office of $1 million.
The sky-high pre-sale is 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 Judith Light, as a literature professor facing cancer. The pre-opening intake set a box office record for plays at the Kennedy Center.
Previews began Feb. 29 and performances continue to March 26.
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 ends March 5, prior to Chalfant flying to London for the British premiere March 27 at the Vaudeville Theatre.
The New York production is still playing at the Union Square Theatre, starring Lisa Harrow.
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.
Tickets ($20-$65) are still available for the Kennedy Center run. Call (800) 444-1324 or (202) 467-4600 for information.
-- By Kenneth Jones