By Kenneth Jones
05 Nov 2012
Nominated for the 1956 Tony Award as Best Play, The Chalk Garden is a poetic comedy that has the sheen of a mystery. It centers on wealthy and eccentric Mrs. St. Maugham, who is raising her spoiled teenaged granddaughter with the help of an ex-convict butler. A mysterious new governess, Miss Madrigal, shakes things up as she coaxes flowers in a sterile garden to grow — and urges the granddaughter to bloom, too.
Roundabout Theatre Company produced an acclaimed revival of the play in 1982. At that time, Irene Worth starred as Mrs. St. Maugham, winning an Obie Award for her work. It also won an Obie in the Revival category. Gladys Cooper originated the Mrs. St. Maugham role on Broadway, earning a Tony nomination (along with Siobhán McKenna as Miss Madrigal). Marian Seldes and Fritz Weaver were also in the Broadway original. A London production starred Peggy Ashcroft, George Rose and Edith Evans.
Playbill inquired with several New York theatre producers and organizations about the reported coming revival. No producer — including the Roundabout, which produces on three Broadway stages and two Off-Broadway venues — has announced The Chalk Garden for 2013-14.
An Off-Broadway revival of The Chalk Garden starring Jacqueline Brookes blossomed in fall 2003 and returned in 2004. TACT/The Actors Company Theatre produced an unrelated concert reading of the play in spring 2004.
Read the Sydney Morning Herald interview with Lansbury, who won Tony Awards for starring in Blithe Spirit, Sweeney Todd, Gypsy, Dear World and Mame. Her Australian-tour Driving Miss Daisy co-stars James Earl Jones and Boyd Gaines appeared in the recent Broadway revival of Alfred Uhry's play.