San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theatre is currently previewing its world premiere production of Leslie Ayvazian’s Singer’s Boy. The production, starring Olympia Dukakis, opens May 7, running through June 1.
The play is described as a “comic fable,” set in and around an old house covered with ivy. In it, live a garrulous middle-aged hermit (Dukakis) and her elderly parents. When a sensual singer arrives with her handyman /pupil/ boyfriend, the talker is inspired to rip away the strangling vines and come out of the house to celebrate life again.
Dukakis is a director, producer and teacher as well as an actress, who appeared on and Off-Broadway in more than 150 productions. She last appeared at A.C.T. in artistic director Carey Perloff’s Hecuba. In addition to her many films for T.V., she has also appeared in the feature films Moonstruck, Steel Magnolias Mr. Holland’s Opus and the upcoming Picture Perfect, to name a few. Dukakis, along with playwright Ayvazian, is a founding member of Voices of the Earth, a theatre company devoted to exploring and creating works about the goddess myths.
Like Dukakis, Ayvazian is also multi-faceted. As an actress, she recently appeared off-Broadway in Nicky Silver’s Raised in Captivity. Ayvazian teaches and writes, and her last play, Nine Armenians, won the Roger L. Stevens Award for New American Plays, premiering at Seattle’s Intiman Theatre. Nine Armenians was presented this past season at off-Broadway's Manhattan Theatre Club, and will be produced this summer at Los Angeles’ Mark Taper Forum.
Ayvazian was in residence at A.C.T. at the beginning of rehearsals, and has returned for previews and the opening. A.C.T. Spokesperson Luis Palomares told Playbill On-Line that Singer's Boy is funny, and "audience response [to the first preview] was wonderful.” Starring with Dukakis as the Singer is Michelle Shay, who received a Tony nomination last year for her performance in Seven Guitars, which she also played at A.C.T. Two-time Tony nominee Anne Pitoniak plays Dukakis' mother. The cast is rounded out by actors Gerald Hiken and Stephen Caffrey.
Director Perloff says, “I am thrilled to be staging this first production of Leslie ‘s bold and imaginative play. Working on this play through numerous workshops has been an incredible adventure, which I look forward to sharing with our audience as we introduce them to a major new voice in the American theatre.”
David Lang composed original music for the production. Broadway designer Loy Arcenas designed the set.
Several free events are being offered in conjunction with the play. An A.C.T. Prologue discussion, sponsored by the Junior League of San Francisco, includes one hour with director and speaker Carey Perloff, on May 6. Audience Exchange Discussions are May 13, 18, and 21, and an A.C.T. Perspectives symposium “Women in Theatre and Film: Contemporary Explorations” takes place May 19, with Award-winning documentary filmmaker Deborah Hoffman, Olympia Dukakis, and Scholar and critic Janelle Reinelt.
Singer’s Boy runs approximately 135 minutes with no intermission. For tickets or more information, call (415) 729-2228, or refer to the A.C.T. regional listing on Playbill On-Line.
--By Blair Glaser