By Kenneth Jones
22 Jan 2009
|Photo by Carol Rosegg|
The new Manhattan Theatre Club production began previews Jan. 2 with Academy Award winner and Tony Award winner Mercedes Ruehl ("The Fisher King," Lost in Yonkers) as the German-Jewish-American mother, Eva, who seeks to chart her daughter Lili's destiny even as they vacation in the Catskill Mountains one summer in the 1960s. Lily Rabe plays the mercurial Lili, who is steely one moment and kittenish the next — and who aches to find her future. Lili grabs at opportunity when a young, gentile man (played by Kieran Campion) visits from the neighboring resort, where Jewish tourists from the East Coast relax on the "American plan," where all food and amenities are included in the price of lodging.
Austin Lysy plays another visitor to Eva's lakefront property, and Brenda Pressley is the family's loyal maid. Tony Award nominee David Grindley (Journey's End) directs.
Tony winner Greenberg is known for Take Me Out, Eastern Standard, Three Days of Rain and the current revised revival of Pal Joey.
The limited engagement of The American Plan continues through March 15.
MTC originally staged The American Plan Off-Broadway in 1990 and 1991. Greenberg told Playbill.com that he recently made some tweaks to the script, but felt it was best left alone.
"When I went back and made some revisions on The American Plan, I had to stop myself because I realized that I was very different then and that I could compromise the style of the play," Greenberg told Playbill.com's Robert Simonson. "I thought, 'Well, I wouldn't write the scene that way now, but that's the point. Leave it alone.' It is its own play and works on different terms than I work on now. …I was younger. … There is a youth about that play that I clearly no longer have, and actually attracts me."
What was the inspiration for the play? Greeberg said, "There were a couple of things. I was actually renting with a friend a cabin for the summer in the Catskills, and I hated it. I think I was in some sort of mental disarray at the time. I hated the cabin. I found it vaguely frightening. But I was there and I wanted to do something to remove myself, so I started writing. I also had had a friend who died very suddenly, a young woman. I went to this sort of meeting that happened a week or so after her death and I saw her mother and her mother's mother, and there was something in the quality of the interaction between them that was compelling and wouldn't go away. I tried mentally to trace that back. What was this mother like as a young woman? …The grandmother of my friend, I only saw her that one night. But that was enough of a germ. I never learned anything about her."
This marks MTC's eighth collaboration with Greenberg. MTC staged the original New York production of The American Plan in 1990 at MTC's Off-Broadway home at New York City Center – Stage II; the play then transferred to the larger Stage I. Other MTC productions of Greenberg plays include Eastern Standard, The Extra Man, Jenny Keeps Talking, Night and Her Stars, the Pulitzer Prize nominated Three Days of Rain and The Violet Hour.
Campion's Broadway credits include Our Town, Pygmalion and Journey's End. Off-Broadway credits include House and Garden (MTC); Substitution (Soho Playhouse); Everett Beekin (LCT); World of Mirth and The Pope and the Witch. He's a graduate of Colgate University and the British American Drama Academy.
Lysy's credits include Off-Broadway's A Midsummer Night's Dream (Public-NYSF), All That I Will Ever Be (NYTW); The Water's Edge (Second Stage); Manic Flight Reaction, Other People (Playwrights Horizons); Hobson's Choice (Atlantic) and Broadway's Macbeth.
Pressley's Broadway credits include Dreamgirls (original company), Cats, The Moony Shapiro Songbook, and Off-Broadway's The First Breeze of Summer, Mom, How Did You Meet The Beatles?, Seven Guitars, Fran's Bed, Goodwill, Marvin's Room, And the World Goes 'Round: The Songs of Kander and Ebb (Outer Critics Circle Award), Blues in the Night.
Rabe appeared in Broadway's Heartbreak House (Roundabout Theatre Company, Callaway Award, Outer Critics Circle nomination); Steel Magnolias (Lyceum Theatre, Drama Desk nomination) and Off-Broadway's Crimes of the Heart (Roundabout Theatre Company) and Colder Than Here (MCC).
Ruehl starred in the Jonathan Demme film "Married to the Mob." She earned an Academy Award, Golden Globe, L.A. and Chicago Film Critics Society awards for her role in "The Fisher King." Other films include "Warriors," "Big," "Heartburn," "Slaves of New York," "Another You," "Last Action Hero," "Lost in Yonkers" and more. Her career was launched in regional theatres playing works of Shakespeare, Moliere, Shaw, Chekhov and Euripides, and she went on to receive Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Helen Hayes awards for her role in Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers, later reprising her role in the film. Other Broadway credits include The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? (Outer Critics Circle Award, Tony nomination); The Rose Tattoo; Shadow Box (Tony nomination); and I'm Not Rappaport. Off-Broadway credits include The Occupant (Signature), Woman Before a Glass (Obie Award), Other People's Money (Clarence Derwent Award), The Marriage of Bette and Boo (Obie Award), Coming of Age in Soho, The Vagina Monologues and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Guthrie Theatre.
The creative team for The American Plan includes Jonathan Fensom (scenic and costume design), Mark McCullough (lighting design), Darron L West and Bray Poor (sound design) and Tom Watson (wig design).
Single tickets are available via Telecharge.com, by telephone at (212) 239-6200, (800) 432-7250 (outside the NYC metro area) and online at Telecharge.com.
For group ticket information call (800) 432-7780 or visit the Samuel J. Friedman box office at 261 W. 47th Street.
Tickets range in price from $56.50-$96.50. Student rush tickets are available the day of the performance at the Friedman box office for $26.50.
MTC is under the leadership of artistic director Lynne Meadow and executive producer Barry Grove.
For more information on Manhattan Theatre Club, visit www.ManhattanTheatreClub.com.