Mason Adams, Anne Pitoniak, Estelle Parsons and Hallie Foote are The Last of the Thorntons, an Off-Broadway premiere by Horton Foote, which began previews Nov. 21 at the Signature Theatre Company. Signature's founding artistic director James Houghton directs Thorntons, which runs through Dec. 31 and officially opens on Dec. 3.
Thorntons is the second play in a two-season, nine-play schedule which will feature new work by the nine playwrights Signature has honored with year-long retrospectives. This season began with A Lesson Before Dying, Romulus Linney’s adaptation of the novel by Ernest J. Gaines; it will continue with works by Adrienne Kennedy and Lee Blessing. Maria Irene Fornes, John Guare, Arthur Miller and Sam Shepard will be on next season’s slate.
Adams, best known from the television series "Lou Grant," appeared in Guare's Lake Hollywood at the Signature in early 1999. Pitoniak was last seen on Broadway in Uncle Vanya. Other credits include 'Night Mother.
Hallie Foote was directed by her father, Horton, in her sister Daisy's play, When They Speak of Rita, at Primary Stages earlier this year. The drama had a successful run, extending several times. Parsons won an Oscar for "Bonnie and Clyde." On Broadway, she's been seen in Miss Margarida's Way and Seven Descents of Myrtle.
Also in the cast are Alice McLane, Timothy Altmeyer, Mary Catherine Garrison, Michael Hadge, Jen Jones and Cherene Snow. As with many Foote plays, Thorntons takes place in a small town in Texas, where but one member of the once mighty Thornton clan survives. This is Alberta Thornton, who nows resides in a Harrison, Texas, nursing home, haunted by the past, the imagined conspiracies of her cousins and the slaves once held by her great-grandfather. Hallie Foote plays Alberta, while Mason Adams and Anne Pitoniak are other residents at the nursing home and Estelle Parsons runs a local drug store, while paying periodic visits on the denizens of the home.
— By Robert Simonson