Tony-winning director Joe Mantello will direct the cast of veteran actors in Baitz's play, which was originally aiming for a Broadway premiere this season under the title Love and Mercy. (It would have marked Baitz's Broadway playwriting debut.) The playwright previously told the New York Times that the Off-Broadway switch would free him from the pressure of having to cast stars.
The announcement of Tony Award winners Channing (Six Degrees of Separation, The House of Blue Leaves) and Lavin (The Sisters Rosensweig, Collected Stories), Golde Globe Award winner Keach (Indians, "Hemingway") and Marvel (Seascape, Top Girls) make for impressive casting.
Other Desert Cities will begin previews Dec. 16 and officially open Jan. 13, 2011, at the Mitzi Newhouse Theater. Complete casting will be announced shortly.
Here's how LCT bills the play: "In Other Desert Cities, Brooke Wyeth (Marvel), a once promising novelist, returns home after a six year absence to celebrate Christmas in Palm Springs with her parents (Channing and Keach), former members of the Reagan inner-circle, her brother, and her aunt (Lavin). When Brooke announces that she is about to publish a memoir focusing on an explosive chapter in the family’s history, the holiday reunion is thrown into turmoil and the Wyeths are both bound together and torn apart as they struggle to come to terms with their past."
The LCT production will have set design by John Lee Beatty, costume design by David Zinn, lighting design by Kenneth Posner, sound design by Jill BC DuBoff and original music by Justin Ellington. Baitz's plays include The Paris Letter, Ten Unknowns, Mizlansky/Zilinsky or Schmucks, A Fair Country, The Film Society, The Substance of Fire, The End of the Day and Three Hotels. He has also written the screenplays for "The Substance of Fire" and "People I Know" as well as for TV's "Brothers & Sisters," "The West Wing" and "Alias."
Mantello's directing credits include Pal Joey, November, The Ritz, Blackbird, The Odd Couple, Glengarry Glen Ross (Tony nomination), Laugh Whore, Assassins (Tony Award), Wicked, Take Me Out (Tony Award), Design for Living, Love! Valour! Compassion! (Tony nomination), Proposals, The Mineola Twins, Corpus Christi, among others. He also received a Tony nomination for his performance in Angels in America. Mantello is a member of Naked Angels and an associate artist at Roundabout Theatre Company.