Past Haunts Republican Family in Jon Robin Baitz's Other Desert Cities, Opening Off-Broadway Jan. 13

By Adam Hetrick
13 Jan 2011

Elizabeth Marvel, Stacy Keach and Thomas Sadoski
Elizabeth Marvel, Stacy Keach and Thomas Sadoski
Photo by Joan Marcus

Jon Robin Baitz's Other Desert Cities, starring Stockard Channing, Linda Lavin and Stacy Keach as the conflicted elders of a tense family holiday gathering, at which old wounds are opened, officially opens Off-Broadway Jan. 13 at the Mitzi Newhouse Theater.

Tony-winning director Joe Mantello directs Baitz's drama about a shamed Republican family who buries a crime committed by their eldest son, only to have their daughter return home with news of an explosive memoir. The Lincoln Center Theater production began previews Dec. 16, 2010, and will continue through Feb. 27.

In addition to Tony winners Channing (Six Degrees of Separation, The House of Blue Leaves), Lavin (The Sisters Rosensweig, Collected Stories) and Golden Globe Award winner Keach (Indians, "Hemingway"), the cast also features Tony Award nominee Thomas Sadoski (Reasons to Be Pretty) and Elizabeth Marvel (Seascape, Top Girls).

Here's how LCT bills the play: "In Other Desert Cities, Brooke Wyeth (Marvel), a once promising novelist, returns home after a six year absence to celebrate Christmas in Palm Springs with her parents (Channing and Keach), former members of the Reagan inner-circle, her brother (Sadosky), and her aunt (Lavin). When Brooke announces that she is about to publish a memoir focusing on an explosive chapter in the family’s history, the holiday reunion is thrown into turmoil and the Wyeths are both bound together and torn apart as they struggle to come to terms with their past."



The title, a character tells us, refers to a California highway sign that indicates what is beyond the intended destination. The sight is well known to travelers of the west.

The production has set design by John Lee Beatty, costume design by David Zinn, lighting design by Kenneth Posner, sound design by Jill BC DuBoff and original music by Justin Ellington.

Baitz's plays include The Paris Letter, Ten Unknowns, Mizlansky/Zilinsky or Schmucks, A Fair Country, The Film Society, The Substance of Fire, The End of the Day and Three Hotels. He has also written the screenplays for "The Substance of Fire" and "People I Know" as well as for TV's "Brothers & Sisters" (which he created), "The West Wing" and "Alias."

Mantello's directing credits include Pal Joey, November, The Ritz, Blackbird, The Odd Couple, Glengarry Glen Ross (Tony nomination), Laugh Whore, Assassins (Tony Award), Wicked, Take Me Out (Tony Award), Design for Living, Love! Valour! Compassion! (Tony nomination), Proposals, The Mineola Twins, Corpus Christi, among others. He also received a Tony nomination for his performance in Angels in America. Mantello is a member of Naked Angels and an associate artist at Roundabout Theatre Company.

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