Wright's Grey Gardens and McNally's New Gay History Play, Some Men, Get Starry Florida Workshops

News   Wright's Grey Gardens and McNally's New Gay History Play, Some Men, Get Starry Florida Workshops The Sundance Institute Theatre Program and The Howard Gilman Foundation help develop new works by Doug Wright and Terrence McNally at The Sundance Institute Theatre Laboratory at White Oak in Yulee, Florida, Nov. 29-Dec. 13.

Doug Wright (top) and Terrence McNally
Doug Wright (top) and Terrence McNally

Grey Gardens is a new musical based on the respected documentary film, with a book by Doug Wright (I Am My Own Wife), music by Scott Frankel and lyrics by Michael Korie. Grey Gardens will be directed by Michael Greif (Rent).

Some Men is a new play with music by Terrence McNally, and will be directed by Philip Himberg.

The cast for Grey Gardens includes Matt Cavenaugh (Princesses, Urban Cowboy) Christine Ebersole (42nd Street), Sara Gettelfinger (Nine, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), John McMartin (Into the Woods), Martin Moran (The Tricky Part), Michael Potts (The Persians) and Mary Louise Wilson (Cabaret).

The cast for Some Men includes Don Amendolia (Cloud 9), Jacob Blumer (Yale Drama School, MFA 2003), Stephen Bogardus (Love! Valour! Compassion!), Darius de Haas (Kiss of the Spider Woman), Malcolm Gets (Amour), John Glover (Love! Valour! Compassion!), Pam Isaacs (The Life), Michael Rupert (1987's Sweet Charity), Mary Testa (42nd Street) and Wayne Wilcox (Light in the Piazza at the Goodman Theatre).

* Created as an extension of the Institute's annual Theatre Lab at Sundance Village in Utah, this program is designed to support ensemble theatre work and innovative musical theatre. Both the Institute and the Gilman Foundation have a history of supporting the work of performing artists, particularly in dance and theatre, and the lab at White Oak is their third collaboration.

The two-week Sundance Institute Theatre Laboratory at White Oak "offers theatre artists the time and support to rehearse, rewrite and develop their work."

The Lab is overseen by Philip Himberg, producing artistic director of the Sundance Institute Theatre Program, and a support team of creative advisors and dramaturgs that includes Janice Paran, dramaturg of the McCarter Theatre in Princeton; dramaturg Jocelyn Clarke, of the Abbey Theatre, Dublin; and Zelda Fichandler Chair of the MFA Acting Program of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. A second creative advisor will be announced soon.

"These two projects invited to participate in this program at White Oak reflect Sundance's commitment to supporting unique new visions for the American stage," explained Himberg, in a statement. "At our annual summer Theatre Lab in Utah, which is now entering its 27th season, we strive to represent the broad landscape of theatre being created in this country today. The White Oak Lab is specifically designed to complement the summer Lab by focusing on musical theatre projects and/or ensemble developed work. Musicals, in particular, have distinct needs and require different methods of rehearsal, and a more complex collaborative team."

John Lukas, vice-president of the White Oak Conference& Residency Center, noted that this collaboration is an important component in artists' residency activity at White Oak: "White Oak has been pleased to host dozens of conferences and performing arts, especially dance, residencies over the years. This partnership with the Sundance Institute Theatre Program expands and deepens our relationship with the theatre community. We have the highest regard for the Sundance Institute's developmental process, and are pleased that White Oak can play a role in advancing the work of these innovative artists."

"Grey Gardens follows the lives of real-life relatives of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy who lived in squalor on Long Island," according to the announcement. "The 1975 film by David and Albert Maysles, Ellen Hovde, Muffie Meyer, and Susan Froemke, looked at the unbelievable but true lives of Jacqueline Kennedy's aunt and cousin, Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter 'Little' Edith. The two lived together with other eccentric characters at Grey Gardens, a 28-room mansion in East Hampton, New York, and just prior to the making of the film were on the verge of being evicted due to their squalid living conditions. The resulting film was a compelling and unforgettable portrait of love, need and dysfunction between a mother and daughter."

Some Men is the latest project of five-time Tony Award-winner Terrence McNally (Kiss of the Spider Woman and Ragtime) and will be directed by Sundance Institute Theatre Program's producing artistic director, Philip Himberg. The work is being called "a theatrical collage that journeys through the lives of American gay men in New York City over the last century, from the era of World War I until some moment in the very near future. Eight men and two women, all guests of a contemporary same-sex wedding, reflect back on their lives and the lives of their predecessors, through the prism of time and a wide range of popular American music."

"The Sundance Theatre Program commissioned Mr. McNally to write a play focusing on the themes of what it meant to be a gay American male in the last century, using the great American songbook as a way of examining this subject," Himberg said. "As the piece progresses, we discover that the 40 some characters that inhabit McNally's world are closely intertwined and separated by just a few degrees."

White Oak is located on a 7,500-acre property in Yulee, Florida. It was conceived by Howard Gilman as a sanctuary for animals, and a place of peaceful yet productive retreat for the people and activities he cared about. In 1982, Gilman established the White Oak Conservation Center on the property for the conservation and propagation of threatened and endangered species. White Oak, which houses the Baryshnikov Dance Studio, has also hosted residencies by performing artists and dance companies; national and international conferences; and seminars and workshops directly related to the Foundation's primary fields of interest: performing arts, wildlife conservation and cardiovascular research. The Sundance Institute Theatre Program focuses on the support and development of new work for the stage. These activities take place at the annual Sundance Theatre Laboratory and the Sundance Playwright's Retreat at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming. The Theatre Program identifies and assists emerging theatre artists, and contributes to the creative growth of established artists. Over 45 Sundance Theatre projects have gone on to productions at theatres across the United States, Mexico and Europe, in the last seven years. Some of the past projects that have been supported by the Sundance Institute Theatre Program include Moisés Kaufman's The Laramie Project, Dael Orlandersmith's Yellowman and Doug Wright's I Am My Own Wife.

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