Dee Hoty, the harried but caring mom of Footloose, and New York theatre stalwart Sam Tsoutsouvas (The Man Who Shot Lincoln), join Wit vet Lisa Harrow in a revival of Old Times at New Jersey's George Street Playhouse. The oddball Harold Pinter comedy drama starts performances March 17, opens March 21 and runs to April 15.
Ethan McSweeny, who directed Broadway's revival of The Best Man, will stage Pinter's play. Harrow, an RSC veteran who starred in Wit Off Broadway and in Pittsburgh, will play Anna, an attractive woman who visits her old friend Kate (Hoty), now married to Deeley (Tsoutsouvas). The play's tone shifts from cordial to sensual to eerie.
Young director Sweeney, a former associate director at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington DC and who helmed Master Class last season at George Street, was named the company's associate artistic director, starting this season. Actress Hoty is a three-time Tony nominee, for Footloose, The Will Rogers Follies and The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public.
Designing Old Times are Mark Wedland (set), Linda Cho (costumes), Francis Aronson (lighting) and Christopher J. Bailey (sound). For tickets ($24-$40) and information on Old Times at George Street, 9 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, call (732) 246-7717.
* George Street began its season with The Spitfire Grill, which will get a remount at off-Broadway's Playwrights Horizons in fall 2001 (with George Street artistic director David Saint again directing). followed by the premiere of A.R. Gurney's Human Events and Arthur Laurents' Venecia.
Ending the George Street season will be Claudio Lazlo, (April 21 May 20, 2001). Cigdem Onat, who was featured in the Lincoln Center revival of Arthur Laurents' Time of the Cuckoo last season, will star in his brand-new play, to be directed by artistic director Saint. Here, she plays a "domineering, passionate actress" whose tumultuous behavior nearly sabotages her most important role.
As for the George Street second stage season, look for an expansion of last year's "Diva Project" to arrive May 9-19, 2001. This year, eight performers - women and men - will offer solo works in "The Diva and Gentle Men Festival," which artistic associate and director of education and outreach Ted Sod is curating.
Plans for the 2001-02 season are also being readied. Waiting for Tadashi, a play by Velina Hasu Houston that was going to be done this season, will instead arrive a year later. Artistic director Saint is still tentatively slated to direct. Houston had a hit in Los Angeles with her play, Tea. The Kennedy Center honored her for her pieces Asa Ga Kimashita (Morning Has Broken) and The Matsuyama Mirror. Other credits include Kokoro (True Heart), American Dreams, Cultural Lives and Hula Heart. Her Ikebana (Living Flowers) will be produced this fall at CA's Pasadena Playhouse.
On tap for Spring 2002 is the culmination of the Bridge Project, being produced with the Crossroads Theatre (a troubled but still-alive African American company next door to George Street) to and L.A.'s Cornerstone Theatre Company. The latter goes into neighborhoods and works with non performers to create a play that addresses issues affecting the community. "We just finished the first year. It's a huge undertaking," spokesperson Shanks told Playbill On-Line in 2000, "involving hundreds, even thousands of people... Their last pieces included The Good Person of New Haven and The Steel Project. The new piece, Public Ghosts - Private Stories, by Ain Gordon, is about New Brunswick, which has strong African-American, Latino, Jewish and Hungarian communities, as well as Rutgers college students and people who've lived here for decades. It's a fascinating process. The working title is `New Brunswick Stories,' and professional playwrights were recently hired to help develop the piece, which we'll produce in 2001-02, possibly as the season opener."
Talley's Folly, a revival of Lanford Wilson's classic about a young Jewish man wooing a shy Christian girl, will also be on tap.
Finally, the George Street Playhouse isn't kidding about its commitment to developing and producing new plays. In the beginning of the season, the company named George Ryan as artistic associate to help manage the literary department, and the theatre's 2000-01 season line-up features three world premieres. In announcing the new slate, artistic director Saint noted that his past two seasons included premieres by Anne Meara (Down the Garden Paths), Allan Knee (Syncopation) and the aforementioned Arthur Laurents (Jolson Sings Again). Meara's play had a run at Off-Broadway's Minetta Lane Theatre.
- By David Lefkowitz
and Robert Simonson