Director Walter Bobbie first mentioned the news to Playbill columnist Harry Haun at the Jan. 26 opening night of MTC's acclaimed revival of Wit. Greenfield, who shapes MTC programming at its Off-Broadway home, confirmed the plan that Bobbie let slip. "I am thrilled that we will work with Terrence McNally and Walter Bobbie to create a new production of Golden Age for our City Center Stage I for the 2012-13 season," Greenfield told Playbill.com.
Tony-winning director Bobbie (Chicago, Venus in Fur) directed the March 2010 Washington, DC, engagement of the play at the Kennedy Center. The play premiered at the Philadelphia Theatre Company in January 2010 under the direction of Austin Pendleton before Bobbie stepped in as director.
In DC, Golden Age was presented as part of the Kennedy Center's Nights at the Opera, a five-week celebration of McNally's opera-related plays (it played the Kennedy Center's intimate Family Theatre). The series also included revivals of The Lisbon Traviata and Tyne Daly in Master Class. The latter (directed by Stephen Wadsworth) made its way to Broadway in summer 2011 for a limited engagement by MTC, with Daly again starring as Maria Callas. (Critics embraced it.)
Daly is currently starring in a West End engagement of that production, which has new performers in the supporting roles.
Golden Age takes place backstage at the Théâtre-Italien in Paris on the evening of Jan. 24, 1835. The occasion is the premiere of Vincenzo Bellini's opera, I Puritani. "Assembled are the composer and his faithful friend, Francesco Florimo, and the four singers for whom the opera was expressly composed known the world over as The Puritani Quartet," according to earlier Kennedy Center production notes. "Bellini's rivalry with his fellow Italian composer, Gaetano Donizetti, for French favor was at its height. This opera was to cement his supremacy. It was to be his last."
"I'm also excited that Manhattan Theatre Club is going to present Golden Age at Stage I at City Center next season," McNally told Playbill.com in an email from London. "I have spent most of my adult creative life in that room. It is filled with so many memories for me — 99.9 percent of them good ones. The play has undergone the usual amount of revisions since the Kennedy Center production — certainly no more or less than I'm accustomed to."
He continued, "It's the same play in outline and events but it's more detailed and richer for the experience of those first performances. Since DC we have done a reading and a 29-hour workshop, both at MTC. We are about to start the casting process. It's very much an ensemble play with Vincenzo Bellini, the composer, at its center. It's my first period play and the first in a non-American setting. I'm always surprised where my heart and mind take me every time I sit down to write a new play."
McNally earned Tony Awards for his plays Master Class and Love! Valour! Compassion!, as well as the books to the musicals Kiss of the Spider Woman and Ragtime. His works also include The Ritz; Frankie and Johnny at the Claire de Lune; Lips Together, Teeth Apart; Deuce; Some Men; Corpus Christi; Dedication or the Stuff of Dreams; The Lisbon Traviata; The Rink; A Man of No Importance; Catch Me If You Can and The Full Monty.