A Conservative Christmas Heats Up in Other Desert Cities, Opening On Broadway Nov. 3

News   A Conservative Christmas Heats Up in Other Desert Cities, Opening On Broadway Nov. 3
A daughter returns home with an earth-shaking Christmas gift for her parents to unwrap in Jon Robin Baitz's Other Desert Cities — starring Stockard Channing, Stacy Keach and Judith Light — which officially opens Nov. 3 at the Booth Theatre.

Stockard Channing, Rachel Griffiths and Stacy Keach
Stockard Channing, Rachel Griffiths and Stacy Keach Photo by Joan Marcus

The acclaimed drama about a wealthy Republican family dogged by its past played a sold-out run Off-Broadway at Lincoln Center Theater last winter under the direction of Tony Award winner Joe Mantello (The Normal Heart, Assassins, Wicked), who returns for the Broadway production. Other Desert Cities began Broadway previews Oct. 12.

The Broadway engagement, which marks Baitz's Broadway playwrighting debut, reunites major players from the Off-Broadway world premiere as well as a handful of new faces.

Original Off-Broadway cast members reprising their performances include Tony winner Stockard Channing (Six Degrees of Separation, The House of Blue Leaves) as family matriarch Polly Wyeth, Golden Globe winner Stacy Keach (Indians, "Hemingway") as her husband Lyman and Tony nominee Thomas Sadoski (Reasons to Be Pretty) as their son Trip.

New to the Broadway production are Tony Award nominee Judith Light (Lombardi, "Ugly Betty"), who takes on the role of acidic alcoholic aunt Silda Grauman, with "Brothers & Sisters" star Rachel Griffiths as daughter Brooke Wyeth, who comes home with news of a shattering new book. Linda Lavin and Elizabeth Marvel originated the roles Off-Broadway, respectively.

In a recent interview with Playbill, Griffiths discussed the family drama where Mom and Dad run a conservative house and the liberal kids come home for the holidays. "Momentarily you buy into certain clichés: Oh, that's the hippy drunk aunt. This is the mother that can't love, that's frozen in her social self-consciousness. I'm the needy girl that puts art before life. And all the stereotypes exist momentarily, only to be dismantled to find three human and relatable people," she said.

Judith Light
photo by Joan Marcus

Channing added, "These very articulate human beings... They can be harsh and they can be rough but they're not unkind. There's none of that creepy, crappy stuff. No manipulation. And they love each other. All these relationships are not echoing that dysfunctional-family cliché. There's something invigorating about these five people that an audience responds to. I think that's why people shift positions. 'Oh, actually he's right.' 'She's got a point there.' 'I didn't think I'd like her but I agree with what she said!'"

Here's how LCT bills the play: "In Other Desert Cities Brooke Wyeth (Griffiths), a once promising novelist, returns home after a six year absence to celebrate Christmas in Palm Springs with her parents, former members of the Reagan inner-circle (Channing and Keach), her brother (Sadoski) and her aunt (Light). When Brooke announces that she is about to publish a memoir focusing on an explosive chapter in the family’s history, the holiday reunion is thrown into turmoil and the Wyeths are both bound together and torn apart as they struggle to come to terms with their past."

Read the Playbill magazine feature about the new Broadway plays of writers Jon Robin Baitz, David Henry Hwang and David Ives.

The Broadway production features Lincoln Center Theater's original design team: John Lee Beatty (sets), David Zinn (costumes), Kenneth Posner (lighting), Jill BC DuBoff (sound) and Justin Ellington (original music).

Baitz's plays include The Paris Letter, Ten Unknowns, Mizlansky/Zilinsky or Schmucks, A Fair Country, The Film Society, The Substance of Fire, The End of the Day and Three Hotels. He has also written the screenplays for "The Substance of Fire" and "People I Know" as well as for TV's "Brothers & Sisters" (which he created), "The West Wing" and "Alias."

Tickets are currently on sale through Jan. 8, 2012. For tickets, priced $56.50-$126.50, visit Telecharge. A limited number of tickets priced $31.50 will be available at every performance through LincTix, LCT's new program for 21 to 35 year olds. For information and to enroll, visit LincTix.org.

View highlights from the show:


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