By Kenneth Jones
15 Apr 2009
Dividing the Estate was Horton Foote's final play before his death and Smith was close with Foote — she was the yearning mama Carrie Watts in The Trip to Bountiful recently Off-Broadway and in Chicago.
"Steppenwolf wishes to honor that relationship," according to an April 15 statement.
Nussbaum will join director Tina Landau's The Tempest — despite the casting of Smith, the role is usually considered a male one — on May 12 and play out the run to May 31. Smith leaves after the May 10 performance. The new production of the Shakespeare play began March 26 in Steppenwolf's Downstairs Theatre.
The Tempest features Steppenwolf ensemble members Alana Arenas, K. Todd Freeman, Frank Galati, Jon Michael Hill, Tim Hopper, James Vincent Meredith, Yasen Peyankov, Lois Smith (to May 10) and Alan Wilder with Eric James Casady, Miles Fletcher, Stephen Louis Grush, Mike Nussbaum (May 12-31), Emma Rosenthal and Craig Spidle.
As reported on Playbill.com, Smith will return to Hartford Stage, joining members of the 2008 Broadway cast of Dividing the Estate May 28–July 5. Michael Wilson again directs. Smith will play Texas matriarch Stella Gordon, whose family squabbles over the future of a cotton plantation.
Smith first collaborated with Horton Foote in his play The Man Who Climbed the Pecan Trees in 1988 at Off-Broadway's Ensemble Studio Theatre, and later appeared in his play Land of the Astronauts. She won the 2006 Drama Desk Award and the 2008 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Actress for her critically acclaimed performance as Carrie Watts in Foote's The Trip to Bountiful, first at Off-Broadway's Signature Theatre Company and later at Chicago's Goodman Theatre as part of their celebrated Horton Foote Festival.