Almost halfway into the season , L.A. Theatre Works has finally announced the musical play of its "The Plays The Thing" radio play series. Edward Asner, Tyne Daly and Yeardley Smith will portray shot guns who sing in Guns, a new revival by Harry Aguado and Doris Baizley, playing for live audiences June 4-7.
The production, originally commissioned in 1975 for Mark Taper Forum, includes several new songs, exploring the nature of guns in society. In the year 2076, guns are outlawed, but a remaining few are being held captive and on display at the zoo. The weapons plan an escape, but in the process, they discover why they are captive and can never be free.
Aguado says, "...the current production [of guns] by L.A. Theatre Works carries an urgency and promise for change as never before, because the issue of gun control has become even more important and the political climate more receptive. The play really drives home the idea that society changed in a radical way when it became possible to kill simply by pulling a trigger, without the need for any actual physical contact."
Asner, who plays the Military Rifle, has received seven Emmy awards, mostly for his portrayal of Lou Grant, a character he originated on the "Mary Tyler Moore Show." He has also worked in plays, films and television films. Asner will star in Harris Yulin's concert version of George Bernard Shaw's Don Juan in Hell, at Stamford Center for the Arts, May 13-18
. Tyne Daly will play the slimy, Saturday Night Special gun. She has worked extensively in plays, films, and television shows, and received a Tony Award for Best Actress in Gypsy, as well as five Emmy's, mostly for her role as Lacey in "Cagney and Lacey." She starred in the television revival of Bye, Bye, Birdie, and most recently in the TV film, A Perfect Mother. Yeardley Smith, playing a plastic, colorful, Toy Gun, is best known to television audiences as the voice of Lisa on "The Simpsons." She has appeared in many films, and on Broadway with Glenn Close and Jeremy Irons in The Real Thing.
Ingmar Bergman's Nora began "The Play's The Thing" season in mid-March, followed by John Rubenstein's Counsellor at Law earlier this month. The remaining roster of L.A. Theatre Works radio plays are:
Quartermaine's Terms, the Obie-winning comedy/drama by Simon Gray, about a kindhearted English teacher at Cambridge. Starring are Alfred Molina (Molly Sweeney), RSC veteran David Warner, Keene Curtis and Holland Taylor. (May 14-May 17).
Forty Two Stories by Chicago playwright Doug Post. The cast of this comedy about misfit workers at a high-rise includes Ed Begley Jr. (TV's "St. Elsewhere", Off-Broadway's Cryptogram), Hank Azaria ("The Simpsons"), Dan Butler (Off-Broadway's The Only Thing Worse You Could Have Told Me), Richard Kind and Charlie Robinson. (June 18-21).
Wild America, a two-hander for Erika Schickel and Paul Mercier on mating, monogamy and motherhood. (July 9-July 12).
"The Play's The Thing," begun in 1990, is produced in association with Santa Monica College's National Public Radio station KCRW. Winner of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's Gold & Silver Awards, the series is devoted "to the discovery and presentation of new plays and new interpretations of classic works."
The National Endowment for the Arts recently awarded $100,000 to L.A. Theatre Works to maintain what is the "largest and only library of contemporary American and classic stage plays on audio tape, and to market and distribute the plays on audiocassette and CD throughout the U.S."
L.A. Theatre Works has also launched a project donating tapes to school libraries in underprivileged areas across the country.
For tickets ($23-$26) and information on these 8 PM performances at Doubletree Guest Suites in Santa Monica, call (310) 827-0889, or refer to the L.A. Theatre Works regional listing on Playbill On- Line.