Tony and Emmy winner Jane Alexander stars in a trimmed-down version of Eugene O'Neill's daunting work, Mourning Becomes Electra, playing Connecticut's Long Wharf Theatre Nov. 19-Dec. 22. Steven Sutcliffe, Ragtime's Younger Brother, is featured as Orin, the mother-, then sister-obsessed brother of Lavinia, the title character.
Mourning Becomes Electra is O'Neill's monumental take on Aeschylus' trilogy, The Oresteia. Set in 19th Century New England in the years following the Civil War, the play is made up of three parts and a total of 13 acts. Rare stagings of the work have usually clocked in at five hours. Long Wharf artistic director Gordon Edelstein received the nod from the O'Neill estate to trim the text down to three hours, allotting roughly one hour to each play in the trilogy. The production originated in spring, 2002 at Seattle's ACT Theatre, where Edelstein was once artistic director.
Alexander played Lavinia opposite Sada Thompson many years ago. At Long Wharf, she is in the Clytemnestra mode, essaying the O'Neill role of unfaithful wife and mother Christine. Alexander has appeared on Broadway in The Great White Hope, 6 Rms Riv Vu, Find Your Way Home, First Monday in October, The Visit, The Sisters Rosensweig and Honour. She was nominated for a Tony Award for every one of these roles, winning for the first. For four years in the 1990's, she served as head of the National Endowment for the Arts.
Joining Alexander are Kevin Tighe (A Skull in Connemara) as wronged patriarch Ezra, Mireille Enos (The Invention of Love) as Lavinia, Liz McCarthy as Hazel Niles, Tony nominee Clayton Corzatte (School for Scandal) as Seth Corzatte, Jason Cottle as Peter Niles and Thomas Schall as Captain Adam Brant. The ensemble is Patrick Cohen, Jimi Egan, Collin Michael Kiernan, Matthew Martin, Gordon Rizza and Rob Rocke.
Designing the show are Andrew Jackness (sets), Paul Tazewell (costumes), Jennifer Tipton (lighting) and John Gromada (sound, original music). Single tickets to Long Wharf productions are $47.50-$15. For reservations and information, call (203) 787-4282. The Long Wharf Theatre is on the web at http://www.longwharf.org
— By Christine Ehren
and Robert Simonson