Defying Gravity, a new play suggested by the life of Christa McAuliffe -- the teacher-in-space participant who perished Jan. 23, 1986 in the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger -- will end its extended engagement at Off-Broadway's American Place Theatre Jan. 4.
Spokesperson Andy Shearer (of Boneau/Bryan-Brown) told Playbill On-Line the show will have run 17 previews and 72 regular performances by its close. Gravity began previews Oct. 18 and opened Nov. 2.
Written by Jane (The Baby Dance) Anderson, it is, according to producer Daryl Roth, "a gorgeous play -- with a very universal theme. It's really about mothers and daughters, teachers and students. Christa isn't mentioned by name. She's called Teacher."
Playing Teacher is Candy Buckley (Whistle Down The Wind), supported by Lecy Goranson as her daughter. The latter is best known as the first Becky on TV's "Roseanne." Jonathan Hadary, who recently co hosted the Broadway Gypsy Of The Year event and was seen on Broadway in Angels In America and Off-Broadway in The Destiny Of Me, plays the painter, Monet, who comments on the scientific goings-on. Also in the cast are Lois Smith (The Grapes Of Wrath, Buried Child), Sandra Daley, Frank Raiter and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Lifting Grafity visually are David C. Woolard (costumes), Jeff Cowie (sets/projections) and Michael Lincoln (lighting). John Gromanda designed the sound and provides the scoring. Michael Wilson, who staged the WPA Theatre's Red Devil Battery Sign, directs. For tickets ($45) and information on Defying Gravity at the American Place Theatre, 111 West 46th St., call (212) 575-3030.
-- By David Lefkowitz