MGM movie queen Jane Powell is featured in the cast of Avow, the new comedy-drama by Bill C. Davis, which began previews Off-Broadway at the Century Center July 14, and will officially open July 27.
Powell's 20 films include the classic "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and "Royal Wedding," which co-starred Fred Astaire. She made her Broadway debut in 1973 in the musical Irene, and she has toured the country in Marriage-Go-Round, Same Time, Next Year and Chapter Two , for which she received a drama-Logue Award. Powell told Playbill On-Line [see this week's "Brief Encounter"] that she jumped at the Avow role in order to work with director Jack Hofsiss, a Tony winner for The Elephant Man.
Also in the cast are Christopher Sieber, Scott Ferrara, Alan Campbell and Sarah Knowlton. Knowlton starred on Broadway in On the Town and Off-Broadway in La Terrasse at Manhattan Theatre Club.
The comforts and drawbacks of religious Catholicism gave Bill C. Davis material for his Broadway hit, Mass Appeal. He's exploring those themes further with Avow. Avow is about the relationship between two gay men, one of whom is a strongly observant Catholic. On the advice of his confessor, one man decides to turn celibate. Meanwhile, his priest is feeling pangs of his own -- for a woman.
"Families can relate to it," Powell said. "Everyone who has a family knows about these different conflicts. Whether they're Catholic or Jewish, they can relate to the different problems that come up. Maybe someone's son is not necessarily gay, but they will understand how something can arise in a family where one person's views go against your beliefs."
Davis told Playbill On-Line that he was glad to be represented on the New York stage again after a long hiatus. "It feels good. I've been having a life and gotten through various traumas along the way."
Davis has another project on the horizon. His play The Sex King had a reading at Manhattan Theatre Club on May 1. Judd Hirsch starred and Lynne Meadow directed. The play is based on a man Davis knew, an eccentric who ran an escort service in a rural community. In the drama, a local prosecutor tries to prove the protagonist is, in fact, dealing in prostitution. Doug Cramer has optioned the script.
-- By Robert Simonson