Who said a play with cancer as its subject couldn't draw an audience?
The producers of Wit, the acclaimed Margaret Edson play starring Kathleen Chalfant, has recouped its original investment.
Wit, a drama about an icy but verbally nimble poetry professor stricken with fourth-stage ovarian cancer, will on March 16 hit its 100th performance at the Union Square Theatre, where it reopened Jan. 7 after an extended run at MCC Theatre during the fall of 1998.
The drama finished its run at MCC Dec. 13 after opening there Sept. 17. The show, initially supposed to run to Oct. 4, was first extended at the MCC to Oct. 24, then Nov. 22, and finally Jan. 3 -- later pulled back to Dec. 13 when the move was confirmed (by the office of Patrick Harold, director Jones' agent). According to the Boneau/Bryan Brown press office, Wit has become MCC's biggest success.
Producers were initially eyeing a Broadway run, specifically at the Helen Hayes Theatre, but those chances fell through in November 1998, reportedly because the Hayes' owner thought a play about a cancer patient would have limited commercial appeal. Margaret Edson's
Kathleen Chalfant, best known for her Tony-nominated performance as Hannah Pitt in the Broadway production of Angels in America, stars as Vivian. Also in the cast are Walter Charles, Alec Phoenix, Paula Pizzi, Daniel Sarnelli, Alli Steinberg, Brian J. Carter, Lisa Tharps and Helen Stenborg. Wit is Edson's first play, based in part on her experiences working at the AIDS Inpatient Unit of the National Institutes of Health. Today Edson teaches kindergarten in Atlanta, GA.
-- By Robert Simonson and David Lefkowitz