Johanna Day, a Tony Award nominee for Broadway's Proof, stars, along with Robert Prosky (Broadway's A Walk in the Woods, Glengarry Glen Ross) and Laurie Kennedy, in the new DC staging on the Fichandler Stage, April 25-June 15.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Wasserstein (The Heidi Chronicles, The Sisters Rosensweig) has been in residence at Arena, working with artistic director Molly Smith, who is staging the humor-laced drama about a Surgeon General appointee (played by Day). Politics, media and personality all figure into the work, which was seen on Broadway in 1997, in a TV movie version and later, in 1998-99, in a revised production at Long Wharf Theatre's Stage II in New Haven, CT.
"Wendy Wasserstein has worked with director Smith to revisit and reshape pieces of her biting comedy about politics, the media and society's ravenous desire to tarnish those in the public eye," according to production notes. Opening is set for May 2.
The cast also includes David Fendig, Gail Grate and J. Fred Shiffman (who are newly-named "affiliated artists" with Arena), and Holly Twyford, Alex Webb, Damon Gupton, Tyee Thilghman, Tuyet Thi Pham. "An American Daughter is the quintessential Washington story: Washington wraps itself around its heroes, puts them up on a pedestal, and then it strangles them," Smith said in production notes. "Wendy uses her art to chronicle the staggering social changes that have transformed modern life. We are thrilled to host her here at Arena as she revisits this piece."
Wasserstein added, "Molly and I are both a part of the generation who came of age in the 1970s – that 'have it all,' women's liberation generation – torn between career ambition and personal fulfillment. It's exciting to work with her on this, to now take another look at a play that was written in the 1990s; it's taking on a new life."
In examining the script, "Wasserstein and Smith focused on its main character, Surgeon General appointee Lyssa Dent Hughes – a health care expert and forty-something daughter of a long-time Senator – to further define and clarify her journey within the play," according to Arena notes. "When an innocent indiscretion from Lyssa's past is discovered, the media turns it into a major scandal, which imperils her confirmation and divides her family and friends. She must decide to continue to pursue the post and face an ugly Senate hearing, or decline the nomination and become a sacrificial lamb for the President."
This is the Washington, DC, premiere of the play.
Tickets range $39-$57. For information, call (202) 488-3300 or visit www.arenastage.org.