War-Weary Son Returns Home to Bellicose Parents in Subject Was Roses, Starring Ivey, Pullman in D.C.

News   War-Weary Son Returns Home to Bellicose Parents in Subject Was Roses, Starring Ivey, Pullman in D.C.
The new Leonard Foglia-directed staging of The Subject Was Roses, the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama about a young veteran who returns from World War II to find his home front in conflict, opens at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Jan. 12.
Bill Pullman and Judith Ivey in The Subject Was Roses.
Bill Pullman and Judith Ivey in The Subject Was Roses. Photo by Scott Suchman

The production, which began previews Jan. 7 at the Eisenhower Theatre at the Kennedy Center, stars Bill Pullman (The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?, "Independence Day") and Judith Ivey (Follies, Hurlyburly, "Designing Women") as feuding husband and wife, and newcomer Steve Kazee as their vet son, Timmy.

Jeffrey Finn Productions is behind the revival of the 1964 drama by Frank D. Gilroy. Finn, Foglia and the Kennedy Center were key ingredients in the 2004 staging of On Golden Pond that moved to Broadway and earned Tony Award nominations in 2005. A tour of the sentimental play will launch in 2006 with Richard Chamberlain and Hayley Mills.

The Tony Award-winning and Pulitzer Prize-honored The Subject Was Roses will continue to Jan. 29. If audiences and critics embrace it, expect Finn to reach toward a wider commercial life for the project.


Steve Kazee is a recent graduate of New York University's Graduate Acting Program. The role of Timmy Cleary has been a launchpad for talented young actors; the part was originated in 1964 by a then-unknown Martin Sheen. Kazee was an understudy in Broadway's 2005-06 Seascape staging. He has appeared Off-Broadway in As You Like It at The New York Shakespeare Festival and been featured in the Williamstown Theatre Festival productions of Cabaret and Main and Eurydice. Here's how Jeffrey Finn Productions characterizes the play: "After serving in World War II, Timmy Cleary (Kazee) returns home to find his parents (Pullman and Ivey) are strangers — to him and each other. When Timmy insists his father take credit for roses he bought his mother, long-hidden resentments rise to the surface, as this attempted act of kindness instead becomes the epicenter of domestic warfare. When the deception is uncovered, the tenuous ties still holding them together begin to unravel and each person's doubts — about marriage, family values and Timmy's achievements overseas — threaten to destroy any hope for reunion. This new production intimately explores a family in crisis while echoing the experiences of a contemporary society at war."

Bill Pullman starred in Edward Albee's Tony Award-winning The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? and the films "Independence Day" and "Sleepless in Seattle." Two-time Tony Award winner Judith Ivey is known for Hurlyburly, Follies and TV's "Designing Women."

Director Leonard Foglia scored a hit with Terrence McNally's Master Class on Broadway.

The Subject Was Roses, a 1965 Tony Award winner for Best Play, was made into an 1968 Oscar-winning film, with a screenplay Frank D. Gilroy adapted from his own play.

The fresh production will feature an award-winning Broadway design team, including sets by two-time Obie Award winner Neil Patel ('night Mother, Side Man), costumes by Tony Award winner Jess Goldstein (The Rivals, Henry IV), lighting by Tony Award winner Donald Holder (The Lion King, Movin' Out) and sound by Obie Award winner David Van Tieghem (Doubt, Frozen).

The Subject Was Roses had its Broadway premiere on May 25, 1964 at The Royale Theatre. Starring Jack Albertson, Irene Dailey and Martin Sheen, it was directed by Ulu Grosbard. It went on to play 832 performances (and moved to four additional theatres during its lengthy run: The Winthrop Ames, The Helen Hayes, Henry Miller’s Theatre and The Belasco).

In the 1968 film version, Jack Albertson and Martin Sheen recreated their stage roles and Patricia Neal played Nettie. At the 1969 Academy Awards, Neal was nominated for Best Leading Actress and Albertson won for Best Featured Actor.

Performances will be Tuesday through Sunday evenings at 7:30 PM with matinee performances on Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 1:30 PM. Tickets ranging from $25 to $78 are on sale now.

Call (202) 467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.

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