DeWitt and Chalfant Are Mother and Daughter in Henley's Family Week, Opening in NYC May 4

News   DeWitt and Chalfant Are Mother and Daughter in Henley's Family Week, Opening in NYC May 4
A family gathers around a woman in crisis in MCC Theater's new production of Beth Henley's Family Week, directed by the Oscar-wining filmmaker Jonathan Demme. It opens Off-Broadway May 4 after a delay of one week to allow for more work on the project.
Kathleen Chalfant, Rosemarie DeWitt and Sami Gayle
Kathleen Chalfant, Rosemarie DeWitt and Sami Gayle Photo by Carol Rosegg

The darkly comic 2000 play by Pulitzer Prize winner Henley (Crimes of the Heart) stars Kathleen Chalfant and Rosemarie DeWitt, with Quincy Tyler Bernstine and Sami Gayle. Demme ("Silence of the Lambs") is making his theatrical directing debut.

Performances continue to May 23 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. The original opening was to be April 26, but the production needed more time.

"Jonathan and Beth have been collaborating on Family Week for quite some time now," MCC co-artistic director Bernard Telsey previously stated. "MCC prides itself on being a laboratory for the development of plays and for artists to explore and experiment with new ideas. We are more than happy to give this production the necessary time for our creative team to continue working on this wonderful play."

The play had a week-long run Off-Broadway in 2000. "A year after the death of her son, Claire [DeWitt] checks into a recovery center in the desert, searching for a way to cope," according to MCC Theater. "When her mother [Chalfant], daughter [Gayle] and sister [Bernstine] arrive to participate in 'family week,' long-dormant traumas collide with recent tragedies in surprisingly comical, shocking and deeply moving ways. United in this family struggle, the women rage and reach out in an effort to reconcile their love with the way things are."

Demme and Henley first met as director and writer in the '80s, on a PBS piece called "Trying Times." They almost collaborated for the movie version of her Pulitzer Prize–winning "Crimes of the Heart." Demme told Playbill magazine, "I've had the privilege of reading, as a friend, all of Beth's plays. I read Family Week when she first wrote it and thought it was a real gem. It had a ridiculously short run in New York, but because I loved that play so much, it stuck in my mind." Read the interview with Demme.


Chalfant has appeared on Broadway in Angels in America, Racing Demon, Dance With Me and Off-Broadway in Wit, Dead Man's Cell Phone, Nine Armenians, Henry V, The Vagina Monologues, Endgame and more. She has also appeared in the films "Duplicity," "Kinsey," "The Laramie Project," "Bob Roberts," and on television's "Rescue Me" and "The Guardian."

DeWitt — known for her screen work in Demme's "Rachel Getting Married," "The United States of Tara," and "Mad Men" — has appeared Off-Broadway in Danny and the Deep Blue Sea and Small Tragedy.

Bernstine recently appeared in In the Next Room or the vibrator play on Broadway and has also been seen on stage in Ruined, (I am) Nobody's Lunch, Gone Missing and A Small, Melodramatic Story. Gayle appeared on Broadway in Gypsy (as Baby June) and Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical (Annie Who) as well as Off-Broadway's Oohrah!

The design team for Family Week features Derek McLane (scenic), Mimi O'Donnell (costumes), Kenneth Posner (lighting) with Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen (sound).  The production also features original music by recording artist Dan Bern.

In Transit's Sarah Jones was previously mentioned to appear in the work, but had to withdraw from the production due a scheduling conflict.

Tickets to Family Week at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher Street, are available by calling (212) 279-4200 or at

Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Sami Gayle, Rosemarie DeWitt and Kathleen Chalfant
Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Sami Gayle, Rosemarie DeWitt and Kathleen Chalfant
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