Sweet Bird of Youth, With Diane Lane and Finn Wittrock, Opens at Goodman
By Kenneth Jones
David Cromer's new production of Tennessee Williams' steamy Southern-set Sweet Bird of Youth, starring Diane Lane and Finn Wittrock, opens Sept. 24 following previews from Sept. 14 at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. Five performances were recently added, Oct. 26-28.
Academy Award nominee Lane ("Unfaithful") plays Alexandra del Lago, "an aging Hollywood screen siren on a journey with an unlikely soul mate" named Chance Wayne (Broadway's Wittrock, recently of Death of a Salesman), "an ineffectual drifter whose youth and promise have begun to fade."
Cromer's 17-member Goodman Theatre cast includes John Byrnes as Dan Hatcher; Sean Cooper as the Heckler; Maggie Corbett as Edna; Jennifer Engstrom as Miss Lucy; Peter Fitzsimmons as Scotty; Kristina Johnson as Heavenly Finley; John Judd as Boss Finley; Colm O'Reilly as George Scudder; Tyler Ravelson as Stuff; Penny Slusher as Aunt Nonnie; D'Wayne Taylor as Charles; Vincent Teninty as Tom Jr.; Dan Waller as Bud; R. Charles Wilkerson as Fly; and Kara Zediker as Violet.
Here's how Goodman characterizes the torrid play, which had a Broadway bow in 1959 starring Geraldine Page and Paul Newman: "Sweet Bird of Youth opens in the Gulf Coast hotel suite of Princess Kosmonopolis (Lane), an aging Hollywood starlet, and Chance Wayne (Wittrock), an actor-turned-gigolo pushing 30. Chance has just brought the Princess to his hometown after the disastrous premiere of her latest film, and hopes to use her fame and connections to win back his former love, Heavenly (Johnson), whose powerful father Boss Finley (Judd) drove him out of town years earlier. But when a mistake from his past resurfaces, Chance's plan quickly unravels and the pair are forced to confront their crumbling dreams."
Cromer was previously announced to helm a Broadway production of the play starring James Franco, for the 2011-12 season, but Franco reportedly withdrew, scotching that plan.
See Cromer (Off-Broadway's Tribes, Our Town and Adding Machine, Broadway's The House of Blue Leaves) talk about Sweet Bird — which has long been on his wish list — on a video on Goodman Theatre's website. This marks Chicago director Cromer's Goodman debut.
Princess Kosmonopolis made Playbill's list of Tennessee Williams' Five Most Memorable Divas in a spring 2012 feature.
Diane Lane has three Broadway credits: The Cherry Orchard, Agamemnon and Runaways, but is more widely known for the films "The Perfect Storm," "Unfaithful," "Under the Tuscan Sun," "Rumble Fish," "The Outsiders" and "A Little Romance," plus a TV version of Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire (she played Stella) and the TV mini-series "Lonesome Dove." According to imdb.com, she plays Martha Kent in the new Superman movie "Man of Steel."
The creative team for Sweet Bird of Youth includes James Schuette (set and costume designer), Keith Parham (lighting designer), Josh Schmidt (sound designer and composer), Maya Ciarrocchi (projections) Kate Devore (dialect and vocal coach), David Woolley (fight choreographer) and Neena Arndt (dramaturg). Joseph Drummond is the production stage manager.
For tickets and information, visit goodmantheatre.org.
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