Jon Robin Baitz's Mizlansky/Zilinsky, or Schmucks will have its Midwest premiere at Chicago, IL's Steppenwolf Theatre Company Studio space. The production will take place in spring 1999, with specific dates to come. No director or actors have been announced.
Mizlansky enjoyed an extended run at New York's Manhattan Theatre Club this past winter. The Joe Mantello-directed production starred Nathan Lane and Lewis J. Stadlen as a pair of outmoded Hollywood hustlers trying to piece together one last get-rich-quick scheme. Steppenwolf produced Baitz's A Fair Country during its 1996-97 season.
The Studio season kicks off with performance artist Heather Woodbury's one-person, marathon creation, What Ever: An American Odyssey in 8 Acts. The eight-hour piece is familiar to Off-Off-Broadway audiences who have caught Woodbury's act as it has evolved over the years. In the play, Woodbury weaves a complicated, cross-country Dickensian yarn featuring ten major characters and 90 supporting players.
The Steppenwolf production will be divided into four evenings, each two acts long. Theatregoers are invited to attend one or all of the segments. What Ever is directed by Dudley Saunders and runs Oct. 8-Nov. 1.
The American premiere of Phyllis Nagy's Disappeared rounds out the Studio season. The play, which is presented in association with Chicago troupe Roadworks Productions, follows Sarah Casey, a young New York travel agent who suddenly vanishes from a seedy Manhattan saloon. In her search for answers, Nagy leads the audience through a grim series of Manhattan locales. Roadworks ensemble member Abigail Deser will direct Disappeared, which plays Feb. 3-29, 1999.
For information on these shows, call (312) 335-1888.
In other Steppenwolf news, the theatre has replaced its previously announced 1999 production of Martin McDonagh's The Cripple of Inishmaan with another play by the same author, The Beauty Queen of Leenane. The performance dates remain the same, with previews beginning July 8, 1999, for a run through Aug. 29, 1999.
Publicist Stephanie Howard said the Steppenwolf artistic staff had originally wanted to do Beauty, but that the rights to the play were held back in the hope of a commercial run. Steppenwolf is a not-for-profit theatre. A more lucrative offer must not have been in the offing, however, because the rights eventually were made available to the company .
Both Cripple and Beauty opened in New York this past season, the former at the Public Theatre and the latter at the Atlantic Theatre Company. Though a few critics thought Cripple the better play, Beauty was overall the better received and transferred to Broadway, where it is still doing good business.
The Steppenwolf mainstage season will open with The Berlin Circle (Sept. 24-Nov. 15), a variant on the legend behind Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Following a Mark Brokaw-directed mounting of The Glass Menagerie (Dec. 3, 1998-Jan. 20, 1999) will be Three Days of Rain (Feb. 11-Apr. 4, 1999) by Richard Greenberg, the story of a famous architect whose will forces his children to probe their family's dark history. Next will be Morning Star (Apr. 22-June 20, 1999), Sylvia Regan's 1940 drama about a widow and her extended family who find themselves caught up in the horror of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, World War I and the Great Depression; Steppenwolf ensemble member Frank Galati (who staged Livent's Ragtime) directs the piece (which is not to be confused with the Broadway-bound musical of the same name).
Currently playing at Steppenwolf is the Douglas Hughes staging of Synge's Playboy of the Western World, starring company member Jim True as the title rogue and film and stage star Martha Plimpton as Pegeen Mike, the Irish lass who falls for him.
Plimpton has appeared in such films as Running on Empty, Another Woman, Parenthood, and I Shot Andy Warhol. New York stage productions include Pericles at the Public Theatre.
Jim True has previously enjoyed noted success in another Irish play, Brian Friel's Philadelphia, Here I Come!, which was produced at New York's Roundabout Theatre Company in 1994. True was most recently seen on Broadway as Vince in Steppenwolf's lauded 1996 revival of Sam Shepard's Buried Child.
The rest of cast includes B.J. Jones, Jerome Kilty, Bradley Armacost, Rob Riley, Georgina Stoyles, Melanie Moore, Laura Ruth, and Lanny Flaherty. The designers are Anita Stewart (sets), Michael Chybowski (lights), Karin Kopischke (costumes), and Johnny Cunningham (sound). The production runs through Aug. 23. The play will then travel in the fall to open the 1998-99 season at the Long Wharf Theatre, where Hughes is artistic director. It is not certain whether True or Plimpton will appear in the New Haven production. No specific dates have been announced for the Long Wharf engagement.
-- By Robert Simonson