Having secured a new space, the nonprofit WPA Theatre began its 23rd season on April 6 with Jonathan Sheffer's Blood on the Dining Room Floor. The well-received show, based on the life, personality and writings of Gertrude Stein, opened officially April 16 and ends its scheduled run May 7.
Both music and libretto for Blood are by Eos Orchestra artistic director Jonathan Sheffer. adobe theatre company [sic] artistic director and co-founder Jeremy Dobrish directed the show. Laramie Dennis is assistant director.
Blood on the Dining Room Floor is described as a murder mystery based on the writings of Stein, if such a thing is imaginable. The works uses the "mysterious events" of a summer Stein spent in a French country house in 1933 as a jumping off point. Originally commissioned by the WPA, the play earned the American Academy of Arts and Letters' 1999 Richard Rodgers Award.
Proving, as Stein said, that "A Rose Is a Rose Is a Rose," the cast includes Sandra Joseph as Rose 1, Anne Bergman as Rose 2 and Mary Ann Stewart as Rose 3.
* As reported in October, the WPA had planned to initiate its new season this month after losing its theatre space and closing last July. At that time, WPA artistic director Kyle Renick was negotiating for temporary stage space and had planned to reopen WPA in February. Details on WPA's new space arrangement are expected soon.
The nonprofit theatre company has built a solid reputation even though recent WPA seasons were less renowned than those of years past. Formed 22 years ago, WPA has produced more than 90 plays, with 13 of them receiving commercial transfers, including Gorey Stories, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Nuts, Album, The Freak, the Key Exchange, Little Shop of Horrors, Steel Magnolias, The Night Hank Williams Died, The Lady in Question, Red Scare on Sunset, Jeffrey, and the Boys in the Band.
In addition, nine WPA plays have gone on to become feature films including Key Exchange, Little Shop of Horrors, The Whales of August, Nuts, Fresh Horses, Steel Magnolias, Jeffrey, North Shore Fish, and The Trading Post.
Tickets for Blood on the Dining Room Floor are $40. The WPA production will run at the Peter Norton Space, 555 West 42nd Street at 11th Avenue in New York City. For information and tickets call (212) 244 7529.
As for the Signature Theatre Company, a box office spokesperson told Playbill On-Line (April 5) the next season -- the company’s 10th anniversary -- will be spread out over two seasons, with each of the nine previously honored playwrights contributing a new work. Seven evenings are anticipated, with Romulus Linney leading off (as he did ten years ago) and Horton Foote on deck.
--By Robert Simonson
Murdoch McBride & David Lefkowitz