The play, drawn from Goldstein's earlier teleplay (the production of which starred no less than Claire Bloom and Deborah Kerr), is billed as a witty, elegant, Noel Coward-worthy "New York tale of friendship, secrets and lies."
Previews play CGP's Mainstage March 15-18 toward a March 19 opening (a gala benefit evening).
"I am delighted to welcome back Broadway stars and playhouse favorites Elizabeth Ashley and Lucie Arnaz under the direction of another playhouse favorite director Robert Kalfin," CGP producing artistic director Arnold Mittelman said in a statement. "Like this season's The Constant Wife, Lionel Goldstein's Ann & Debbie serves up a cynically witty play imbued with elegant humor that is an intimate and amusing glimpse at modern-day fidelity and the compromises one makes in the game of 'love.' Ann & Debbie will titillate audiences with the fitting, unconventional solutions that two modern women bring to the table of complicated, contemporary marriages."
The play is set in a mid-town Manhattan hotel. The title characters' friendship for the last 18 years "is based on a unique commonality — Ann's husband." When he dies, the women get together. Ann & Debbie is the second world premiere for playwright Lionel Goldstein at the Coconut Grove Playhouse. Tony-Award winner Elizabeth Ashley makes her return to the Coconut Grove Playhouse Mainstage, following her portrayal of Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? She plays Ann.
Her Broadway credits include Enchanted April, Agnes of God and Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park opposite Robert Redford, for which she received her second Tony nomination.
Arnaz plays Debbie. Her Coconut Grove work includes Once Removed by Eduardo Machado and last season's A Picasso by Jeffrey Hatcher. On Broadway, she played the leading lady of They're Playing Our Song.
Director Robert Kalfin directed Coconut Grove's The Disputation starring Theo Bikel and A Passionate Woman starring Loretta Swit.
Playwright Goldstein was born in London. He has written four novels, the fourth of which, "The Man Before Yesterday" was published in 1991. His first novel, "The Executioner," remained unpublished until it was adapted into a television drama and produced by the BBC in 1980. His second play, Halpern & Johnson, was also made into a television drama by HBO/HTV and starred Laurence Olivier and Jackie Gleason. A second "two-hander," "Ann & Debbie" was produced by Granada Television and starred Deborah Kerr and Claire Bloom. Halpern & Johnson was picked up by the Cameri Theatre in Tel Aviv, and was first performed on the stage there. It has subsequently been produced for the stage in Argentina, Uraguay (several seasons), Brazil, Australia and at the Coconut Grove Playhouse. Halpern & Johnson is scheduled to be produced January 2006 in San Diego.
Ann & Debbie is presented by special arrangement with Carol Durbin Productions, Inc.
For more information, visit www.cgplayhouse.org.