Westport Announces Revised 2008 Season; Paul Newman to Direct

By Adam Hetrick
February 5, 2008

The Westport Country Playhouse has announced a revision to its 2008 season.

In the wake of former artistic director Tazewell Thompson's departure from the Playhouse, Joanne Woodward and Anne Keefe recently announced they would step in for the 2008 season as co-artistic directors. Under their guidance the Playhouse has made changes to its new season.

Emmy Award winner Timothy Busfield and Tony nominee Helen Stenborg kick off the Westport season in Morris Panych's Vigil. Stephen DiMenna directs the "darkly glorious comedy of a self-obsessed nephew summoned to his aunt's death bed," running Feb. 26-March 15.

Replacing the previously announced A Strange and Separate People will be Alan Ayckbourn's Time of My Life. Westport reunites the acclaimed cast and director from last season's Ayckbourn comedy Relatively Speaking. John Tillinger returns to direct a cast featuring Geneva Carr, Cecilia Hart and Paxton Whitehead.

Time of My Life, according to press notes, centers on a "family patriarch, who gets together with his sons and their significant others to celebrate their mother's 54th birthday at their favorite family restaurant. Based on what transpires following the night of the birthday party, time begins to flow differently for each couple." Time of My Life will run April 1-19, with an additional weekend of performances set for April 24-26.

The season will also feature the previously confirmed productions of Craig Wright's The Pavilion, under the direction of Chad Rabinovitz, May 13-31; Hot 'n Cole: A Cole Porter Celebration!, directed and choreographed by Anthony Salatino, June 10-28; and Scramble!, running July 9-26, directed by Tracy Bridgen.

Karoline Leach's thriller Tryst, starring Mark Shanahan and Andrea Maulella, will now take the Aug. 5-23 slot on the Westport schedule. Originally, the Playhouse had intended to produce Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth starring Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad.

Joe Brancato, who directed Tryst Off-Broadway, will reprise his work for Wesport. The play, according to press notes, follows George Love, who "has a habit of marrying simple, well off women who become inexplicably poor and husbandless the day after their honeymoons. He's come to London to con his next bride into marriage, and happens upon Adelaide, a milliner's assistant who is sitting on a small nest egg of 50 pounds. He woos her and two days after they've met, he convinces her to get married that evening and bring the total of her bank account. Once they get to the honeymoon, however, the situation changes, as Adelaide appears to be not such a simple girl. She too has her own agenda in marrying Mr. Love and will try anything to get what she wants."

And, Academy Award winner Paul Newman will make his professional directorial stage debut with John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. The Depression-era drama runs Oct. 7-25.

Woodward and Keefe also intend to announce a holiday production for the Playhouse's December slot.

Subscription tickets for the Westport Country Playhouse's 2008 season are currently on sale. Tickets are available by calling (203) 227-4177 or by visiting www.westportplayhouse.org.

In its 78-season history, the Westport Country Playhouse located in Westport, CT has produced more than 700 plays, 35 of which have transferred to Broadway.