Brian Friel's Lovers and Anita Loos' Happy Birthday Are on TACT Schedule for 20th Anniversary

By Kenneth Jones
July 31, 2012

Off-Broadway's TACT/The Actors Company Theatre will produce Brian Friel's Lovers and Anita Loos' Happy Birthday in its 2012-13 season, marking 20 years since the group was founded.



The Drama Desk Award-nominated company dedicated to presenting "neglected or rarely produced plays of literary merit" will launch the season Sept. 18-Oct. 20 with the intimate, darkly poetic Lovers, directed by TACT member Drew Barr.

"Written in 1968 and first presented in the U.S. at Lincoln Center in a production that featured Art Carney, Lovers is set in contemporary Ireland and tells the tales of two very different couples, both at the beginning of their romantic journeys together, yet each from very different perspectives and with very different outcomes," according to TACT notes. "[It's] filled with Friel's characteristic poetic lilt and devilish humor."

Friel's work includes Dancing at Lughnasa, Translations and Philadelphia, Here I Come!, among other celebrated plays.

Lovers will feature scenic design by Brett Banakis, lighting design by TACT company member Mary Louise Geiger, costume design by Kim Krum Sorenson and sound design by Daniel Kluger.

Loos' Happy Birthday, "a brash American comedy from the golden age of Broadway," will be directed by TACT co-artistic director Scott Alan Evans for a March 12-April 13, 2013, run. (Loos may be best known for her stories that were the basis for "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," later turned into a musical.)

"Loos wrote Happy Birthday for her friend Helen Hayes, who was 'fed up with hoop skirts and wigs' and wanted to do something contemporary," according to TACT. "Hayes loved the script and brought it to Richard Rodgers, who was looking for something to produce. Rodgers brought on Oscar Hammerstein II and wrote an original song for the production. Hayes received the first-ever Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play in 1947 for Happy Birthday and the production ran for 563 performances."

Casting for both productions and the creative team for Happy Birthday will be announced at a later date.

In a statement, Evans, who co-artistic-directs with Cynthia Harris and Jenn Thompson, said, "For this milestone year we're thrilled to be presenting two works that epitomize our mission 'to a T.' Both plays are by extraordinary writers and both have been inexplicably absent from the New York stage for decades. It's going to be a great way to celebrate our 20th!"

For the TACT Salon Series, Barr directed Roly Poly; I Am A Camera; The Amazing Doctor Clitterhouse; Man and Boy; and The Confidential Clerk. For War Horse at Lincoln Center Theater, he is an associate/resident director.

Evans is founding co-artistic and executive director of TACT. Since 1993, TACT has unearthed and Evans has produced and/or directed over 100 forgotten or neglected plays (including full productions of Incident at Vichy, The Cocktail Party, Three Men on a Horse and Children). Evans adapted and directed the U.S. premiere of Noël Coward's Long Island Sound, and conceived, co-wrote and directed the world premiere of The Triangle Factory Project.

TACT's home is at The Beckett Theatre (410 W. 42nd Street) at Theatre Row.

Lovers and Happy Birthday will both play the following performance schedule: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 7:30 PM, Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 2 & 8 PM and Sunday at 2 PM. Tickets are $20 - $59.25 and will be available by visiting telecharge.com or calling (212) 239-6200.

Tickets will also be available at the Theatre Row box office between noon and 6 PM daily.

To learn about the benefits of TACT membership, visit tactnyc.org or call (212) 645-8228.

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TACT's company of actors was drawn together in 1992 by a love of the literature of the theatre. The Equity company presented 13 seasons of "in-concert" performances and in its 2006-07 season began presenting fully staged productions (David Storey's Home and The Sea by Edward Bond) at The Beckett Theatre on Theatre Row. TACT became a resident company on Theatre Row with its 2007-08 season when they presented The Runner Stumbles by Milan Stitt and The Eccentricities of a Nightingale by Tennessee Williams; The New York Times included the latter in its Top 10 Theatre Picks for 2008. Last season's Lost in Yonkers received a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Revival.