Woody Allen Directs His Second Hand Memory, Opening Nov. 22 Off-Broadway

By Kenneth Jones
and Robert Simonson
22 Nov 2004

Michael McKean in A Second Hand Memory
Michael McKean in A Second Hand Memory
Photo by Carol Rosegg

Woody Allen the filmmaker returns to his stage roots to be Woody Allen the playwright with A Second Hand Memory, opening Nov. 22 in a staging by Off-Broadway's Atlantic Theater Company.

ATC announced Nov. 11 that the run will gain two additional weeks, to Jan. 23, 2005. Allen directs the world premiere, set in Brooklyn in the 1950s. Allen's Writer's Block sold out last year at the Atlantic, 336 W. 20th Street, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.

A Second Hand Memory features ATC company member Kate Blumberg (The Syringa Tree) and guest artists Beth Fowler (Tony nominated Broadway's The Boy From Oz), Dominic Chianese (Uncle Junior on "The Sopranos"), Nicky Katt (TV's "Boston Public'), Erica Leerhsen (Allen's films "Anything Else" and "Hollywood Ending"), Elizabeth Marvel (NYTW's recent Hedda Gabbler) and Michael McKean (Broadway's Hairspray).

A Second Hand Memory began previews on Nov. 3. The run was originally announced to end Jan. 9.

The story, set in Brooklyn and Hollywood in the middle of the last century, centers on the Wolfe family, father Lou (Chianese), ever fretful of his family jewelry business, Fay, his defeated wife who once dreamed of a life in California, and Eddie (Katt), the restless son on whom they project their dreams. Narrating the story is Eddie's sister Alma (Marvel), who, long since before the story began, flew the coop to tour the beds of Europe. Another family member, Uncle Phil (McKean), is a powerful talent agent in Hollywood and the unknowing empowerer of many of the Wolfe family dreams.

Flashing back and forth in time, the story is told by the rebellious daughter Alma. As she was not present during some of the events, the cigarette-smoking, world-weary, would-be writer calls the play "a second hand memory," which doesn't keep her from floating into scenes. She has the poetic license to do so, she tells us.



The play is Allen's rumination on familial expectations in the context of growing up in a home where love between the parents is questioned.

Allen is revered as the American filmmaker who chronicled human neuroses and urban relationships in "Annie Hall," "Manhattan," "Crimes and Misdemeanors" and "Husbands and Wives."

Scenic design is by Santo Loquasto (a frequent production designer on Allen's films), lighting design is by Jim Ingalls, with costume design by Laura Bauer.

Allen's films also include "Love and Death," "Stardust Memories," "Crimes and Misdemeanors," "The Purple Rose of Cairo" and many more (about one a year since the 1970s). His plays include Don't Drink the Water (1966), Death Knocks (1968), Play It Again, Sam (1969), Death (1975), God (1975), The Query (1976), My Apology (1980), The Floating Light Bulb (1981), Death Defying Acts (1995) and Writer's Block (2003).

A Second Hand Memory will play Tuesday Saturday evenings at 8 PM, Sunday evening at 7:30 PM and matinees on Saturday at 2 PM and Sunday at 3 PM. Curtain on opening night Monday, Nov. 22 is 7 PM. Added holiday performances are Nov. 24 at 3 PM; Dec. 22 at 3 PM and Dec. 24 at 3 PM.

Tickets are $60 and are available starting Aug. 20 by calling Telecharge.com at (212) 239-6200.

For more information, visit www.atlantictheater.org.