L.A. Theatre Works, dedicated to attracting starry casts, mating them to great works and then preserving their performances on tape, have chosen the next six shows they will lay down in their live radio series. Carson McCullers' The Member of the Wedding, N. Richard Nash's The Rainmaker, Lillian Hellman's The Autumn Garden, Harley Granville Baker's The Voysey Inheritance, Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers and Peter Ackerman's Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight will take all turns on the Skirball Center stage and on recording.
But first an evening of political theatre kicks off the Theatre Works season with the world premiere of Harry Shearer's new comedy, Twilight's Last Gleaming and Robert Myer's portrait of Lee Atwater, Fixin' To Die. While Myer delves into a real-life master of dirty politicking, Shearer looks to a not-to-distant future where, with targeted advertising and low turnouts, politicians of every kind personally bombard the very last voter in America. Fixin' and Twilight run Oct. 11-15.
The Member of the Wedding won several prizes after its New York debut in 1950 for its sensitive coming-of-age story set in the 1940's South. McCullers pairs Frankie Addams, a lonely, imaginative 12-year old girl with her "coloured" cook, as she searches for someone to belong to. Jena Malone and Ruby Dee will star in the drama, running Nov. 15-19.
The Broadway revival company of The Rainmaker will be reassembled in Los Angeles for the play's performances Nov. 29-Dec. 3. Jayne Atkinson stars as the love-starved Lizzie opposite Woody Harrelson as the con man Bill Starbuck who promises he can bring rain to a drought stricken farm. Scott Ellis repeats his Broadway directorial duties for Theatre Works.
Julie Harris, Glenne Headly and Jamie Lee Curtis head up the "forty somethings" who meet annually at a Southern resort in The Autumn Garden, playing Jan. 10-14. Hector Elizondo, Shirley Knight, David Clennon and Scott Wolf also star. JoBeth Williams directs. The British arrive for Englishman Baker's Voysey Inheritance with Alfred Molina, Paxton Whitehead and Rosalind Ayres starring. Written in 1905, this melodrama pictures an Edwardian family torn apart by their young son, who discovers that the Voysey name was made on three generations of lies and thievery. Douglas Weston, Serena Scott Thomas and Simon Templeman also star. The Voysey Inheritance runs through Jan. 31-Feb. 4.
Anthony LaPaglia plays the father of Artie and Jay Kurnitz in Simon's Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning Lost in Yonkers. In this comedy, the two young boys search for their identities amid a family that includes a strong German-Jewish grandmother, a mob money man and a mentally unstable woman. Yonkers plays Feb. 14-18, 2001.
TV's Richard Kind ("Spin City") and Megan Mullally ("Will and Grace") lead the West Coast premiere of Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight, running March 7-10. The show's Off-Broadway director John Rando returns at the helm. Alan Mandell also stars.
All TheatreWorks theatre productions are recorded for future broadcast on Santa Monica College's KCRW 89.9FM. In the past 11 years, productions have won several awards including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's Gold and Silver Awards, three Sony Awards, the Writer's Guild of America's Best Comedy Award and the 1999 Audie Award for Best Dramatic Production from the Audio Publishers Association.
L.A. TheatreWorks is on the web at http://www.latw.org.
-- By Christine Ehren