Tennessee Williams' Milk Train, a Wild Ride for Olympia Dukakis, Opens Off-Broadway

News   Tennessee Williams' Milk Train, a Wild Ride for Olympia Dukakis, Opens Off-Broadway
Tennessee Williams' The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore, a rarely seen title about a wealthy, aging Southern eccentric barking her memoirs to a secretary as a harbinger of death climbs up the hill, opens Off-Broadway Jan. 30. Academy Award winner Olympia Dukakis plays widow Flora Goforth.

Edward Hibbert and Olympia Dukakis
Edward Hibbert and Olympia Dukakis Photo by Joan Marcus

Michael Wilson (The Orphans' Home Cycle) directs the Roundabout Theatre Company staging at its Off-Broadway home at the Laura Pels Theatre. Previews began Jan. 7. Performances play to April 3.

This production (with a somewhat different cast) premiered in May 2008 at Hartford Stage in Connecticut. It was the culmination of Wilson's ten-year project on the work of Tennessee Williams.

Wilson's New York cast includes Curtis Billings (as Giulio), Elisa Bocanegra (as Simonetta), Dukakis (as Flora Goforth), Edward Hibbert (as Witch of Capri), Maggie Lacey (as Frances Black) and Darren Pettie (as Christopher Flanders). Hibbert steps into the female role of the witch directly from starring in Roundabout's revival of Mrs. Warren's Profession.

Here's how Roundabout characterizes the play: "In this haunting Tennessee Williams drama, Olympia Dukakis stars as Flora Goforth, a wealthy American widow. In her picturesque Italian mountaintop home, Flora has detached from the world in order to write her memoirs. When a handsome and mysterious young visitor arrives without warning to keep Flora company in her final hours, this dreamlike play blossoms into a fascinating meditation on life and death."

The Milk Train is one of Williams' more bizarre plays, set on the coast of Italy, where Flora has a rather elaborate home up in the cliffs overlooking the sea. The property, guarded by savage dogs, includes a very public intercom system of loudspeakers and several guest houses — including the pink cottage in which sexy stranger Chris Flanders is given refuge. It's all accessible only by a goat path. The script's loose construction seems informed by the fact that Flora is sick and jabbing herself with syringes that are full of pain meds. She has permission to be crazy, and so does the script.

Jeff Cowie's set features flowing gray curtains that suggest perpetual dusk, a modernist grotto for Flora's bedroom and outcroppings of rock around the stage.

Read Playbill's feature about Olympia Dukakis and The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore.

The design team also includes David C. Woolard (costumes), Rui Rita (lights) and John Gromada (original music and sound).

Roundabout Theatre Company has a long association with Tennessee Williams, having staged The Glass Menagerie (2009-2010 and 1994-1995), Suddenly Last Summer (2006-2007), A Streetcar Named Desire (2004-2005), The Night of the Iguana (1995-1996) and Summer and Smoke (1995-1996 and 1975-1976).

The last major New York revival of the play was WPA Theatre's 1987 production starring Elizabeth Ashley. Hermione Baddeley starred as Flora in the 1963 Broadway premiere, which ran two months.

The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore plays Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 7:30 PM with a Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinee at 2 PM.

Ticket prices range from $71-81. Tickets are available by calling Roundabout Ticket Services at (212) 719-1300, going online at www.roundabouttheatre.org or visiting the Laura Pels Box Office (111 West 46th Street).

Maggie Lacey and Darren Pettie
Maggie Lacey and Darren Pettie Photo by Joan Marcus
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