Former Rent siren Daphne Rubin-Vega will star in the New York premiere of Karen Hartman's Gum, the first of three productions announced for the 1999-2000 season of Women's Project & Productions.
The season also includes the world premiere musical, Leaving Queens.
Rubin-Vega will play a veiled woman in a walled garden who discovers the "forbidden and deadly pleasures" of gum-chewing and pays the price in an "unforgiving culture," according to the announcement. Performances begin Oct. 6. The show opens Oct. 17.
A 1996 news item in The New York Times inspired Hartman to write the play. The article was about two veiled women -- presumably Islamic -- who chew gum and realize their passion and power in a male-ruled world.
Rubin-Vega played Mimi in Broadway's Rent, earning a Tony Award nomination. She returned to the role for six weeks in the national tour in San Francisco in early 1999. The Gum cast will also include Firdous Bamji, Angel Desai (Stop Kiss), Lizan Mitchell (Having Our Say) and Juan Rivera-Lebron. Loretta Greco directs.
Designers are Myung Hee Cho (set), Frances Aronson (lighting) and Elizabeth Hope Clancy (costumes).
Gum had previous productions at Baltimore's Center Stage in March 1999 and San Francisco's Magic Theatre in April 1999.
The Women's Project & Productions season also includes:
€ Two-Headed, Utah playwright Julie Jensen's tragicomic story of a friendship on the Utah frontier, a land of "bigamy and bloodshed" where "men had the power of the Word, while their women only had each other," according to the press announcement. January-February 2000 dates will be announced. The cast and creative team have not been announced.
€ The world premiere of Leaving Queens, a new Irish-flavored musical by Kate Moira Ryan (book and lyrics) and Kim D. Sherman (music). The show concerns a young mother who reconnects with her estranged child and rediscovers her Irish heritage. Under the guidance of WPP artistic director Julia Miles, the musical was presented in July 1999 as a workshop in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon Drama's Summer New Plays Project. April-May dates will be announced. No word of creative team to casting.
Performances are at the Women's Project & Productions Theatre (formerly Theater Four), 424 W. 55th Street. For ticket information, call (212) 239 6200.
WPP had a hit with the Frances Sternhagen starrer, Exact Center of the Universe, which earned solid notices in April 1999 and was extended. It will move to Off-Broadway's Century Theatre for a commercial run beginning Sept. 8. John Tillinger recreates his WPP staging direction at the Century.
-- By Kenneth Jones