Anita Loos' Happy Birthday, With Tony Winner Karen Ziemba, Begins March 12 at Off-Broadway's TACT
By Michael Gioia
Anita Loos' Happy Birthday, the final production of TACT/The Actors Company Theatre's 20th anniversary season, begins performances March 12, prior to an official opening March 21, at Theatre Row's Beckett Theatre. Tony Award winner Karen Ziemba is a guest artist in the staging.
Directed by TACT co-artistic director Scott Alan Evans, performances continue through April 13.
The cast includes TACT company members Mary Bacon (Arcadia, The Late Christopher Bean), Todd Gearhart (Incident at Vichy, Semi-Monde), Nora Chester, Darrie Lawrence (Dead Accounts, Children), Victoria Mack (Venus in Fur, A Little Journey), Ron McClary (The Late Christopher Bean, Incident at Vichy), James Prendergast (Incident at Vichy, The Late Christopher Bean), Margot White (The Farnsworth Invention, Semi-Monde) and guest artists Tom Berklund (The Addams Family, The Normal Heart U.S. tour), Hannah Cheek (Goodbar, First You're Born), Anderson Matthews (Arcadia, Moose Murders), Joseph Masi (Better Lucky Than Smart, Billy Camaro), Lesley Shires, Joe Tippett (Fish Eye, The Young Left) and Tony winner Karen Ziemba (Contact, Chicago).
In Happy Birthday, according to TACT, "the Jersey Mecca cocktail lounge in Newark, NJ really starts jumping one rainy evening when Addie Bemis [played by Mary Bacon], a soft-spoken librarian, decides it's time to live it up." She even gets a song — tipsily singing Rodgers & Hammerstein's "I Haven't Got a Worry in the World."
Other members of the creative team include Brett J. Banakis (sets), Campbell Baird (costumes), Paul Hackenmueller (lights), Bart Fasbender (sound), Valerie Wright (choreography), James Cunningham (musical direction), Lauren Madden (properties), Jeff Meyers (production stage manager) and Andrew Slater (assistant stage manager).
Loos wrote Happy Birthday for her friend Helen Hayes, who was "fed up with hoop skirts and wigs" and wanted to do something contemporary. Directed by Joshua Logan, the production opened in October 19436 at the Broadhurst Theatre, and Hayes received the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance as Addie.
TACT/The Actors Company Theatre (Scott Alan Evans, Cynthia Harris, & Jenn Thompson, Co-Artistic Directors) is dedicated to presenting neglected or rarely produced plays of literary merit, with a focus on creating theatre from its essence: the text and the actor's ability to bring it to life.
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