Following an extended run of Filumena with Maria Tucci, the Blue Light Theatre Company returned with a much darker show: Michael Cristofer's drama, Amazing Grace. Marsha Mason, last seen on Broadway opposite Cherry Jones in Night of the Iguana, stars.
Amazing Grace won the 1996 American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award after its premiere at the Pittsburgh Public Theatre. The Blue Light staging began previews Feb. 24, opened Mar. 15 and ends its scheduled run, Apr. 19. The drama will have run 20 previews and 33 regular performances.
In this jaundiced look at American cultural values, Mason plays a condemned murderer reliving the events leading to her day of execution. Co-starring with Mason under Edward Gilbert's direction are Carlin Glynn, Bethel Leslie, Stephen Bradbury, Adina Porter, Marsha Dietlein, Jerry Mayer and Anthony Lamont. Designing the show are Michael Schweikardt (sets), Tom Sturge (lighting) and Laurie Churba (costumes).
Although his Pulitzer-winning Shadow Box was revived on Broadway a few years ago, Cristofer (pronounced Cris-tah'-fer) hasn't had a new show on the Great White Way (or nearby) since 1984, when The Lady and the Clarinet received scathing reviews.
Not that Cristofer hasn't been busy. Last season saw The Blues Are Running at Manhattan Theatre Club's second stage. Also, in 1985-86, he and Lawrence Sacharow helped found River Arts Repertory in Woodstock, NY, which produced the work of playwrights Len Jenkin, Richard Nelson, and others. Their last show, Three Tall Women, came to Off-Broadway and led to Albee's most recent Pulitzer. Hollywood has also been a steady Cristofer customer. In fact, after Blues, Cristofer went off to direct his first film, for HBO. Called "Gia," the cable TV biopic was be based on the life of a model who had it all and threw it all, violently, away. Cristofer revised the script, originally by Jay McInerney.
Founded in 1994 to emphasize "language, physical style and ensemble" playing, Blue Light Theatre Company has staged such works as Golden Boy, Scenes From An Execution and Waiting For Lefty.
The company's next show will be Tom Stoppard's translation of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull. Austin Pendleton, who currently appears in The Diary of Anne Frank on Broadway, directs the mounting, which is scheduled to begin previews May 8 and open May 27 for a run through June 28. Cast-members will include Angie Phillips (A Flea in Her Ear, All My Sons, Pride's Crossing), Mark Blum (Mizlansky/Zilinsky), Maria Tucci (Filumena, Collected Stories) and Greg Naughton.
For tickets ($37.50) and information on Blue Light's Amazing Grace at the Theatre Four space, 424 West 55th St., call (212) 239-6200.