It's been a long time coming, but Kenneth Lonergan's This Is Our Youth, which received a brief but acclaimed New Group staging in October 1996, will get another Off-Broadway mounting with the same director, Mark Brokaw, and the same stars: Josh Hamilton, Mark Ruffalo and Missy Yager. The show will open the 1998-99, 20th anniversary Second Stage season at its current home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, with previews starting Oct. 15 for a tentative opening Nov. 3.
Lonergan's comedy tells of three disaffected trust-fund kids. Producers Barry and Fran Weissler had been trying to bring Youth back to Off-Broadway for months, but a satisfactory venue wasn't found for a commercial run.
The news that Second Stage got the play comes as a surprise, since months ago spokespersons for the Second Stage were saying the new season wouldn't start until Feb. 1999, when the company would move into its new home on Eighth Avenue and 43rd Street. (According to a spokesperson from the Richard Kornberg press office [Aug. 18], Second Stage will hold onto the old space, but the rest of its season will occur at the new.)
At that point, Second Stage will inaugurate its new venue with a revival of the 1973 Pulitzer and Tony winner That Championship Season. Don Scardino will stage Jason Miller's drama, which starts previews Feb. 23 and opens in mid-March 1999.
Another revival, Gemini, arrives Apr. 20 (opening early May 1999), with Brokaw at the helm of Albert Innaurato's comedy -- one of the first to use television advertising effectively (Its "I'm not hungry, I'll just pick," became a catchphrase wherever the commercial aired). Brokaw, one the most successful and sought-after directors in theatre today, becomes Director in Residence at Second Stage for two seasons beginning in 1999. His stay is paid for by the National Theatre Artists Residency Program, which is administered by the Theatre Communications Group and funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The director's residency was to have begun in the 1997-98 season, said company spokesperson Alex Fraser, but was delayed when Brokaw's success with such plays as Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive and Douglas Carter Beane's As Bees in Honey Drown placed sudden demands on his time.
Brokaw history's with Second Stage goes back more than a decade to when he was assisted Second Stage Artistic Director Carole Rothman on Tina Howe's Coastal Disturbances. A few years after that, Brokaw took the helm himself, piloting the company's production of Lynda Barry's The Good Times Are Killing Me. Brokaw also staged Craig Lucas' The Dying Gaul at the Vineyard Theatre.
Closing the season, June 22 (opening early July 1999) is Cheryl West's look at African-American women, Jar The Floor, directed by Marion McClinton. Other West plays include Before It Hits Home and the libretto for Play On.
-- By Robert Simonson