Ruehl Will Be Artist Louise Nevelson in Edward Albee's Occupant in 2008

News   Ruehl Will Be Artist Louise Nevelson in Edward Albee's Occupant in 2008
Tony and Academy Award-winning actress Mercedes Ruehl will star in the world premiere of Edward Albee's Occupant, directed by Pam MacKinnon, May 6-June 29, 2008, in an Off-Broadway production by Signature Theatre Company.
Mercedes Ruehl
Mercedes Ruehl

Albee was Signature's 1993-1994 Playwright-in-Residence. Opening night for Occupant will be May 29 at Signature's home at the Peter Norton Space on West 42nd Street. The casting of Ruehl had been talked about for weeks; Signature confirmed it Oct. 24.

Signature Theatre Company caps off its 2007-08 season (which is devoted to works by Charles Mee) with a "Legacy Production" as part of its "Signature Series," in which former Playwrights-in-Residence return to revisit their landmark works. Originally produced at Signature in 2002 in a limited engagement, Edward Albee's Occupant "is a portrait of acclaimed sculptor Louise Nevelson and a quest to capture a charismatic and complex artist and persona. What is the relationship between creator and creation? Who was Louise Nevelson? Only she knew."

The 2002 presentation — seen by few — starred Anne Bancroft, who only played a handful of performances, due to illness. It never officially opened, making the 2008 run, technically, the world premiere. Signature had always hoped to return to the work.

Additional casting and creative team information for Edward Albee's Occupant will be announced at a later date. Tickets will go on sale in early March 2008.

Director MacKinnon is currently represented Off-Broadway by Edward Albee's Peter and Jerry (Second Stage) — a pairing of Albee's classic The Zoo Story (serving as Act Two) and a recent work, Homelife (placed as Act One, a prequel to Zoo Story). Ruehl appeared on Broadway in Edward Albee's The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? (Drama Desk Award, Tony Award nomination). Her other stage credits include The Marriage of Bette and Boo (OBIE Award), Lost in Yonkers (Tony Award), the one-woman play Woman Before a Glass (OBIE Award), and Viva la Vida! (Bay Street Theatre). Her many film credits include "The Fisher King" (Academy Award, Golden Globe Award), "Married to the Mob," "Big," "Last Action Hero," "What's Cookin'," "More Dogs Than Bones," "Another You," "Heartburn," "The Warriors," "Four Friends," "Radio Days," "84 Charing Cross Road," "Leader of the Band," "The Secret of My Success," "Slaves of New York" and "Crazy People."

Albee was born on March 12, 1928, and began writing plays 30 years later. His plays include The Zoo Story (1958), The Death of Bessie Smith (1959), The Sandbox (1959), The American Dream (1960), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1961-62, Tony Award), Tiny Alice (1964), A Delicate Balance (1966, Pulitzer Prize; 1996, Tony Award), All Over (1971), Seascape (1974, Pulitzer Prize), Listening (1975), Counting the Ways (1975), The Lady from Dubuque (1977-78), The Man Who Had Three Arms (1981), Finding the Sun (1982), Marriage Play (1986-87), Three Tall Women (1991, Pulitzer Prize), Fragments (1993), The Play About the Baby (1997), The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? (2000, 2002 Tony Award), Occupant (2001), Peter and Jerry (Act 1, Homelife; Act 2, The Zoo Story) (2004), and Me, Myself and I (2007).

In 2002, Anne Bancroft played the first week of Signature's Occupant previews starting Feb. 5, but fell ill with pneumonia. Standby Kathleen Butler went on for two weeks before the run was shut down Feb. 22 to wait for Bancroft's recovery. The production was reconstituted with Bancroft in March, when she played performances March 21-April 7. The short run was sold out; critics were not invited.

The two-hander is in an interview format in which sculptor Nevelson recounts her adventurous bohemian life in art, as an interviewer (Neal Huff in 2002) tries to separate fact from fiction. Anthony Page directed in 2002.

The title is inspired by the fact that the artist once insisted that her hospital room door be labeled "occupant" rather the "Louise Nevelson."


Through The Signature Ticket Initiative, which seeks to make great theatre accessible to the broadest possible audience, all regularly-priced single tickets ($65) are available for $20 during the regular runs of each production for the entire season and continues through Signature's 20th Anniversary Season (2010-11).

The Signature Ticket Initiative is made possible by the lead sponsorship of Time Warner, Inc. Support for The Signature Ticket Initiative is provided by Margot Adams, in memory of Mason Adams. Edward Albee's Occupant is supported, in part, by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Additional funding for it is provided by the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation.

For more information on Signature visit

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