Martin Sheen Returns to Subject Was Roses, Opening Feb. 21 in L.A.; Conroy and Geraghty Also Star

News   Martin Sheen Returns to Subject Was Roses, Opening Feb. 21 in L.A.; Conroy and Geraghty Also Star
Martin Sheen's early-career success, The Subject Was Roses, becomes a late-career opportunity with the Feb. 21 opening of Mark Taper Forum's revival of the Frank D. Gilroy post-World War II drama.
The Subject Was Roses star Martin Sheen
The Subject Was Roses star Martin Sheen Photo by Craig Schwartz

Sheen, who played the war-veteran son, Timmy, in the original 1964 Broadway production of the three-character family play, now assumes the father role, John, for Center Theatre Group's revival at the Taper in Los Angeles. Neil Pepe (Broadway's Speed-the-Plow) directs the trio, which includes Brian Geraghty (of the film "The Hurt Locker") in Sheen's old role (for which Sheen was Tony-nominated in 1965) and Frances Conroy ("Six Feet Under") as the mother, Nettie.

The play about a son returning from the military to witness his parents' broken marriage won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play.

The drama opens the Taper's 2010 season, playing to March 21. Previews began Feb. 10. (The production replaces the previously announced Speed-the-Plow.)


The Subject Was Roses, according to the Taper, is "the heartfelt and honest depiction of a father, mother and son whose complex and strained family dynamic becomes sadly clear after the son returns from a three-year stint in the Army." Sheen also played the son in the 1968 film version.

The Subject Was Roses is presented at the Taper in association with Estevez Sheen Productions.

Jack Albertson played John Cleary on Broadway (winning a Best Featured Actor, besting Sheen in the same category). He and Sheen repeated their work on screen, with Patricia Neal playing the mom. Irene Dailey played Nettie on Broadway.

"Martin and I had been talking for some time about doing The Subject Was Roses, and when it appeared that the timing for the production was perfect for the opening slot in the new Taper season, I was pleased that we could move quickly," CTG artistic director Michael Ritchie said. "Set in 1946 during World War II, this is a timeless, important play with characters so rich and believable that your heart goes out to them, wishing they could break out of old family patterns. These are people we can all identify with. It makes for compelling theatre."

The production team includes set designer Walt Spangler, costume designer Laura Bauer and lighting designer Rui Rita. The composer is Obadiah Eaves and Cricket S. Myers is the sound designer. David S. Franklin is the production stage manager.

Sheen is perhaps best known for his performance as President Josiah Bartlett in the acclaimed NBC-TV series "The West Wing," which earned him six Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor. He played Capt. Willard in the legendary film "Apocalypse Now."

Conroy earned three Emmy nominations for playing the undertaker's widow in the HBO series "Six Feet Under." A veteran stage actress, her Broadway credits include Arthur Miller's The Ride Down Mr. Morgan (Tony Award nomination and an Outer Critics Circle Award), Miller's <>The Last Yankee (Obie Award), Edward Albee's The Lady From Dubuque and Three Tall Women, and David Hare's The Secret Rapture (Drama Desk nomination).

Geraghty starred in the critically-acclaimed film "The Hurt Locker" and also appeared in "Love Lies Bleeding," "We Are Marshall," "The Guardian," "Bobby" and more.

Playwright Gilroy, after serving in World War II and receiving his education at Dartmouth and the Yale School of Drama, began writing for television for such programs as "Playhouse 90," "Studio One" and more. His plays include Who'll Save the Plowboy?, That Summer – That Fall, The Only Game in Town, Last Licks and Any Given Day.

For tickets and information, call CTG Audience Services at (213) 628-2772 or online at or in person at the CTG box office located at the Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center.

Frances Conroy and Brian Geraghty
Frances Conroy and Brian Geraghty
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