Misery, With Johanna Day and Daniel Gerroll, Premieres in PA; William Goldman Adapts Stephen King

By Kenneth Jones
24 Nov 2012

William Goldman
William Goldman

Misery, a new stage version of the Stephen King novel about a novelist held captive and hobbled by his greatest fan, gets its world premiere starting Nov. 24 in an adaptation by two-time Academy Award winner William Goldman, who penned the 1990 screen version of the psychological thriller.

At Bucks County Playhouse, Tony Award nominee Johanna Day (Proof) plays crazy maven Annie Wilkes and Daniel Gerroll (Enchanted April, High Society) is writer Paul Sheldon. James DeMarse (Orphans' Home Cycle, Dividing the Estate) plays Buster. 

Dramatist Goldman also wrote the screenplays for "The Princess Bride" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "All the President's Men" (he won Oscars for the latter). His nonfiction book "The Season," a chronicle of what was on Broadway in 1968, is an essential part of any theatre fan's library.

Will Frears (Off-Broadway's Omnium Gatherum, Year Zero, The Water's Edge) directs the new script, which plays 11 performances, to Dec. 8 at Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, PA. (The famed summer stock house has a record of sending shows to Broadway; Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park began there, under a different title.)



Read the recent Playbill.com interview with Goldman and Frears, who talk about Misery.

This new stage version of the King book is not connected to an earlier adaptation by Simon Moore, whose script was produced in London (where Sharon Gless was the tormenter) and regional theatres.

Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Castle Rock Entertainment and Playhouse Productions are behind the Pennsylvania "developmental engagement." Goldman's "Misery" film starred James Caan and Kathy Bates, who won an Academy Award for her performance as Annie Wilkes. 

"It's a thrill to be working on this world premiere with Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures and Castle Rock Entertainment," said Jed Bernstein, producing director of Bucks County Playhouse, in an earlier statement. "Misery will be yet another significant milestone in our efforts to re-establish the Playhouse as an integral and vital player in Broadway creative development."

According to the producers, "Misery tells the story of novelist Paul Sheldon as he plans to make the difficult transition from writing historical romances featuring heroine Misery Chastain to publishing literary fiction. Annie Wilkes, Sheldon's number one fan, rescues the author from the scene of a car accident. The former nurse takes care of him in her remote house, but becomes irate when she discovers that the author has killed Misery off in his latest book. Annie keeps Sheldon prisoner while forcing him to write a book that brings Misery back to life."

The creative team includes set designer David Korins (Motown, Annie), Oscar-winning costume designer Ann Roth ("The English Patient," The Book of Mormon), lighting designer David Weiner (Godspell, The Normal Heart) and Tony-winning sound designer Darron L West (Peter and the Starcatcher, Chinglish).

Misery features original music by Michael Friedman (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Saved), special effects by Gregory Meeh (Spamalot, Into the Woods) and fight direction by Rick Sordelet (A Streetcar Named Desire, Fences).

Ticket prices range from $39-$54 and can be purchased by visiting BCPTheater.org or calling (215) 862-2121.