Mark Lamos directs the world-premiere engagement for Lincoln Center Theater, which began previews June 2. The limited engagement will run through Aug. 1.
The cast features Tony Award nominee Bobby Steggert (Yank!, Ragtime) as Gurney's younger self, with three-time Tony nominee Kate Burton (Hedda Gabler, The Constant Wife) as Cornell. Four-time Tony Award winner Boyd Gaines (Gypsy, Journey's End) portrays Cornell's husband, director Guthrie McClintic, and Brenda Wehle (Pygmalian, Stuff Happens) is Gert Macy, Cornell's general manager.
Steggert described to Playbill.com his own experience of working with Gurney in rehearsals. "I'm staring at him across the table. It's the most amazing research resource I've ever had. I can ask him anything," Steggert said. "He met Katharine Cornell backstage after seeing Antony and Cleopatra when he was 18. That's exactly what the play's about," he added. "His stories are invaluable. He tells me exactly what it was like to be in boarding school in 1948, exactly what it was like to have parents who disapproved of him wanting to be a writer, as well as what it was like to go to New York at that period and to see theatre. It's very different from theatre now. He's a wealth of knowledge and experience. I'm just soaking it all up."
Here's how LCT bills the work: "In 1948 playwright A.R. Gurney, then a young boarding school student, traveled to New York where he attended a performance of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, going backstage afterwards to meet the production’s star, the great stage actress Katharine Cornell, who was dubbed 'The First Lady of the American Stage' by the legendary critic Alexander Woollcott. A mix of remembrance and imagination, The Grand Manner is a love letter to this fabled actress and a heartfelt look back at the glorious heyday of the Broadway theater." The production has set design by John Arnone, costume design by Ann Hould-Ward, lighting design by Russell H. Champa and original music and sound design by John Gromada.
A.R. Gurney is the author of Love Letters, The Dining Room, Sylvia, The Cocktail Hour, Ancestral Voices, Big Bill, Indian Blood, Children and Crazy Mary. His plays have earned him Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk and Rockefeller awards.
Director Mark Lamos previously collaborated with Gurney on his 2004 play Big Bill, which also played LCT's Newhouse. He has also staged the LCT productions of Cymbeline, Seascape, Measure for Measure and The Rivals. Lamos has directed the Broadway productions of Our Country's Good, The Gershwins' Fascinating Rhythm and The Deep Blue Sea.
For further information visit LCT.