Orphans' Home Cycle Won't Find a Broadway Home This Season

News   Orphans' Home Cycle Won't Find a Broadway Home This Season
The Orphans' Home Cycle, Horton Foote's nine-play epic about generations of a Texas family, will not transfer to Broadway in the 2010-11 season, the late writer's actress-daughter — and literary executor — Hallie Foote told the New York Times.

Orphans' Home Cycle star Hallie Foote
Orphans' Home Cycle star Hallie Foote Photo by Gregory Costanzo

The Signature Theatre Company's 2009-10 Off-Broadway production was a critical and audience hit, but its size makes its not easy to produce, commercially.

"The present climate simply isn't hospitable to presenting a three-part, nine-hour work," Foote told the Times. "Despite the many awards and accolades we received, the money did not follow, owing I think to the sheer size of the production and the many logistical challenges it poses."

A future regional life is being explored for a co-production that may surface at the Alley Theatre in Houston in 2012-13.

Foote told the Times that she and her collaborators (director Michael Wilson and Signature artistic director James Houghton) are still hopeful for a Broadway life for Orphans.

Commercial producer Daryl Roth, who was working on a commercial life for the production, told Playbill.com on Oct. 11, "I remain hopeful that Orphans' Home Cycle will find a home but no future plans have been finalized. It is a magnificient work and deserves to reach a wider audience." *

Foote's final masterwork, The Orphans' Home Cycle, which draws on the playwright's Texas lineage, concluded its extended Off-Broadway engagement May 8, 2010, at the Signature Theatre Company's home on West 42nd Street. The first installment of the three-part epic began previews Off-Broadway Nov. 5, 2009, after making its world premiere at Hartford Stage in September 2009. Michael Wilson, who is the artistic director of Hartford Stage and a frequent Foote collaborator, helmed Orphans' Home Cycle.

Each of the three installments in the family drama opened to acclaim Off-Broadway, prompting talk of a possible Broadway transfer in the fall.

The first part of the nine-play Texas-set drama, The Story of a Childhood, opened Off-Broadway Nov. 19, 2009; the second part, The Story of a Marriage, opened Dec. 17, 2009; and the final installment, The Story of a Family, opened Jan. 26.

Part I (The Story of a Childhood) consists of the plays Roots in a Parched Ground, Convicts and Lily Dale; Part II (The Story of a Marriage) includes The Widow Claire, Courtship and Valentine's Day; and Part III (The Story of a Family) concludes with 1918, Cousins and The Death of Papa.

Based partly on the life of Foote's father and the courtship of his parents, all of the plays in The Orphans' Home Cycle were originally penned as full-length works. Hartford Stage commissioned Foote to adapt the plays into their current three-part form in 2007. While several of the plays in the cycle were seen prior to the world premiere of this packaging, the plays Roots in a Parched Ground, Convicts, Cousins and Valentine's Day, make their debut here.

Foote's daughter, Tony-nominated actress Hallie Foote (Dividing the Estate), portrayed Mary Vaughn in a cast that also featured Bill Heck ("The Closer," "Medium") in the central role of Horace Robedaux, with Dividing the Estate actress Maggie Lacey as his wife, Elizabeth Vaughn Robedaux, and James DeMarse (Dividing the Estate, The Trip to Bountiful) as Henry Vaughn.

Completing the cast were Devon Abner, Mike Boland, Pat Bowie, Leon Addison Brown, Justin Fuller, Jasmine Harrison, Henry Hodges, Annalee Jefferies, Virginia Kull, Gilbert Owuor, Jenny Dare Paulin, Pamela Payton-Wright, Bryce Pinkham, Stephen Plunkett, Emily Robinson, Lucas Caleb Rooney, Dylan Riley Snyder and Charles Turner.

A Pulitzer Prize winner for The Young Man from Atlanta, Foote's plays also include Dividing the Estate (2009 Tony nomination for Best Play), The Carpetbagger's Children, The Trip to Bountiful, The Traveling Lady, The Chase, The Last of the Thorntons and Talking Pictures, among others. He is an Academy Award winner for the screenplays "Tender Mercies" and "To Kill a Mockingbird." The 92-year-old Foote had been in Hartford, CT, where he was putting the finishing touches on Orphans' Home Cycle, when he died in March 2009.

The Orphans' Home Cycle "begins with a father's death in a small-Texas town at the turn of the century, a loss that sends his son, Horace Robedaux, on an odyssey through the darkest corners of the heart as he learns to become a husband, father, and patriarch," according to Signature.

Mike Boland, Justin Fuller, Stephen Plunkett, Bill Heck, Annalee Jefferies, Hallie Foote and Jenny Dare Paulin
Mike Boland, Justin Fuller, Stephen Plunkett, Bill Heck, Annalee Jefferies, Hallie Foote and Jenny Dare Paulin
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