By Andrew Gans
and Robert Viagas and David Lefkowitz
23 Feb 1998
With so much attention focused on shows being prepped for Broadway in the spring, it's easy to miss changes in quieter shows that have been around since autumn. So it is with David Mamet's The Old Neighborhood, which had a major cast change in mid-January: longtime Mamet veteran Mary McCann (Oleanna) took over for Rebecca Pidgeon.
The actress appears only in the third segment of the three slightly related one-acts in Neighborhood. McCann is a member of the Atlantic Theatre Company (formed by Mamet) and has appeared there in Mamet's Edmond and his direction/translation of The Three Sisters.
McCann, speaking at a luncheon of the American Theatre Critics Association (Feb. 21), told the assembled a surprising thing about Mamet's style of working: "He loves practical jokes. We work hard, but there's a lot of clowning around and fun. Also, he's so loyal. You won't hear from him, then he calls, you pick up the phone, and two weeks later you're on Broadway."
Aside from McCann, the cast of The Old Neighborhood has not changed from its Nov. 19, 1997 opening. Tony winner Patti LuPone and movie actor Peter Riegert star, directed by Scott Zigler, who staged Neighborhood at American Repertory Theatre in spring 1997. The Broadway incarnation, which began previews Nov. 11, is produced by Carole Shorenstein Hayes (Fences) and Stuart Thompson (general manager of the 1997 A Doll's House revival).
Also in the cast are Vincent Guastaferro and Jack Willis. Both actors were retained from the A.R.T. Production, as was Pidgeon (Mamet's real-life wife).
LuPone, who triumphed on Broadway in such musicals as Evita and Anything Goes, last appeared on The Great White Way when she succeeded Zoe Caldwell in Terrence McNally's Master Class. LuPone drew rave reviews for her portrayal of opera diva Maria Callas and then repeated her work in the London production.
Riegert, known for his amiable, guy-next-door roles in such movies as Crossing Delancey, Chilly Scenes of Winter, and Local Hero, was last seen on Broadway in Wendy Wasserstein's short-lived An American Daughter this past spring.
The Old Neighborhood consists of three autobiographical one-act plays set in and around Mamet's native Chicago. They are written in the mood of Mamet's Cryptogram, which also debuted at A.R.T.
The three interconnected plays are titled The Disappearance of the Jews, Jolly and Deeny (formerly titled D.). All three have one character in common, Bobby Gould.
In all three plays, the middle-aged characters recall or revisit their childhoods in search of truth and understanding. Mamet won the Pulitzer Prize for Glengarry Glen Ross, and is author of Oleanna, American Buffalo, Speed-the-Plow The Water Engine, and many other plays.
The play's A.R.T. designers will reprise their roles for Broadway: Kevin Rigdon (sets), Harriet Voyt (costumes), and John Ambrosone (lighting).
For a look back at David Mamet's career, see The Plays of David Mamet in Theatre Features.
Tickets ($45-$55) are on sale via Tele-charge (212-239-6200) and at the box office. You can also order tickets on Playbill On-Line.