Last Chance to catch Thunder Knocking On The Door, Keith Glover's blues musical about a magical guitar's effect on a poor black family. The much-produced play opened the 33rd season of Seattle, WA's A Contemporary Theatre (A.C.T.), May 14, and finishes its run there June 7.
The drama, which uses the 12-bar blues format even in dialogue, premiered at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and started previews at A.C.T. May 8.
A.C.T. had intended to stage Thunder the previous season but postponed when Glover decided to rework the score (the piece has music and lyrics by Chris Cain and Michael Butler). A live blues band will back the A.C.T. mounting.
Glover's other works include Dancing On Moonlight (NY Shakespeare Festival, 1995), Coming Of The Hurricane, and In Walks Ed. Also an actor, Glover appeared in Baltimore Center Stage's Two Trains Running.
According to an interview with Simon Saltzman in This Month ON STAGE magazine (Nov. 1996), Glover discovered theatre when his mother took him to see For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Is Enuf. An athletic high school student, in 1981 Glover wrote a play about football that came to the attention of New York's Young Playwrights Festival, where he was especially encouraged by mentor Ruth Goetz (The Heiress). Timothy Near, artistic director of San Jose Rep, stages Thunder, which stars "Living Single's" T.C. Carson as Thunder, alongside Sharon Brown, Robert Barry Flemming, Julia Lema and Harry Waters Jr. Designing the show are Andrew Jackness (set), Shigeru Yaji (costumes), Nancy Schertler (lighting) and Wrick Wolff (sound).
In other A.C.T. season news, the musical Violet seemed to disappear after its brief but acclaimed Off-Broadway run at Playwrights Horizons in April 1997. Now the show will get its first regional mounting, sometime in 1998-99 as a recently added offering at Seattle's A Contemporary Theatre. Also newly announced is a production of Death Of A Salesman featuring veteran actor John Aylward.
The ACT season, beginning May 8, is the second for artistic director Gordon Edelstein. Here's the remaining line-up (specific dates not yet available):
Collected Stories: Donald Margulies' two-hander about a successful writer and the admiring -- and ambitious -- student who enters, and then co-opts, her life. The show premiered at CA's South Coast Rep and played Off-Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club.
Quills: Doug Wright's controversial look at the Marquis de Sade, set in an 1807 insane asylum. "I couldn't decide if [de Sade] was a satiric genius or a toxic pornographer," Wright has said, citing de Sade's "outrageous social commentary and darker primal content." Quills won a Best Play OBIE for the 1995 New York Theatre Workshop production.
Summer Moon (working title): Voice Of The Prairie author John Olive returns with this lyrical drama of one man's quest to bring Japanese cars to America during the post-War years. Other Olive plays include Evelyn And The Polka King and Standing On My Knees. Developed at UT's Sundance Lab and South Coast Rep, the show will be directed by ACT associate artistic director, Leslie Swackhamer.
Violet, a musical by Jeanine Tesori (music) and Brian Crawley (book & lyrics), based on Doris Betts' story, "The Ugliest Pilgrim." Susan H. Schulman, who staged the piece at Playwrights Horizons, will again direct. Violet tells of a young woman, physically scarred in an accident with her father's axe, who sets off on a pilgrimage to find a healer. Along the way she meets two soldiers, one white, one black. Songs in the show include "Lonely Stranger," "Bring Me To Light" and "Down The Mountain."
Death Of A Salesman, Arthur Miller's arguably tragic look at the downfall of an ordinary man whose company no longer needs him. A regular on TV's "ER," lead actor John Aylward's ACT credits include such shows as Glengarry Glen Ross and On The Razzle. He also appeared on Broadway in The Kentucky Cycle.
Founded in 1965 by Gregory A. Falls, ACT dedicates itself to producing new works. Having recently moved downtown, ACT now produces plays on two different stages.
Artistic director Edelstein, staged The Homecoming on Broadway and the world premiere of Arthur Miller's The Last Yankee. He served as associate artistic director of both New Haven CT's Long Wharf Theatre and MA's Berkshire Theatre Festival.
Said Swackhamer, who served as interim artistic director before Edelstein arrived, "Gordon's work with playwrights such as Donald Margulies, Constance Congdon, Mac Wellman and Joyce Carol Oates shows a level of vision and style that will be invigorating to ACT and to the Seattle community." Swackhamer is now associate artistic director at ACT.
For tickets and information on productions at A Contemporary Theatre on Union Street in Seattle, call (206) 292-7676.
-- By David Lefkowitz