Christopher Ashley, who recently directed successful Off-Broadway productions of Communicating Doors and As Thousands Cheer, will stage a new version of Stephen Schwartz's musical Working at CT's Long Wharf Theatre this coming spring.
Working (Mar. 5-Apr. 4, 1999) is a reworking, so to speak, of the 1978 musical based on Studs Terkel's book. The updated version was given a showing at Arlington, VA's Signature Theatre last fall. The musical was adapted by Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso, and the score includes songs by Craig Carnelia, Micki Grant, Susan Birkenhead, Stephen Schwartz, and James Taylor.
After the Virginia production, there was speculation the show would travel to New York, but nothing materialized. The Long Wharf version will differ from the Signature mounting.
David Petrarca was originally slated for the director's chair at Long Wharf but soon departed, reportedly to take a television gig. (He's now been slated to direct Red at Long Wharf later in the season.) No cast has been selected for Ashley's mounting of Working, which was originally set to bow this November but earlier this fall switched places with Theresa Rebeck's new Abstract Expression , which will now run Nov. 13-Dec. 13. Abstract is about a jaded, bitter painter whose sudden rediscovery sends his life into a tailspin. Greg Leaming will direct. Rebeck's other plays include A View of the Dome and The Family of Mann. She has also written extensively for TV, particularly "NYPD Blue."
The season continues with Chay Yew's Red (Jan. 8-Feb. 7, 1999), about a father and daughter caught up in China's Cultural Revolution. The father is involved in the Beijing Opera, while his offspring decides to join the revolution. When political forces begin to use the opera as a pawn, tragic consequences ensue. Petrarca, who bowed out of Working, returns to the Long Wharf to direct Red.
Long Wharf's final offering will be a Hughes-directed production of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing (Apr. 30-June 6, 1999).
Meanwhile, Wendy Wasserstein is busy doing some rewrites on her play An American Daughter, which will grace Long Wharf's Second Stage Mar. 30-May 9, 1999. Daughter is the playwright's most recent full-length work and premiered on Broadway last spring but earned some of the poorest reviews of Wasserstein's generally rosy career. The satirical drama, which closed after a few months, concerns a Washington, D.C., doctor nominated for the office of surgeon general. Her off-the-cuff comments set off of media maelstrom.
To give the play a new lease on life, the Long Wharf and Wasserstein have selected as director Derek Anson Jones, currently enjoyed the success of his Off-Broadway mounting of Wit at Manhattan Class Company.
Also slated for the Second Stage season are The Gimmick (Oct. 27 Dec. 6, opening Nov. 4), a new one-person show by Dael Orlandersmith directed by Jaye Austin Williams; and Tim Blake Nelson's The Grey Zone (Jan. 26-Mar. 7, 1999), directed by Hughes.
-- By Robert Simonson
and David Lefkowitz
and Sean McGrath