Two Couples Ask Deep Questions in DC-Area Bow of Quality of Life, Opening Sept. 17

News   Two Couples Ask Deep Questions in DC-Area Bow of Quality of Life, Opening Sept. 17
The East Coast premiere of The Quality of Life, Jane Anderson's play about marriage, morality and mortality, opens in Arlington, VA, in a production by Arena Stage. Annette O'Toole, Johanna Day, Kevin O'Rourke and Stephen Schnetzer star.
The Quality of Life stars Annette O'Toole and Johanna Day
The Quality of Life stars Annette O'Toole and Johanna Day Photo by Scott Suchman

Performances began Sept. 11 and continue to Oct. 18. This latest production of the play represents script revisions since the play's bow on the West Coast, where JoBeth Williams played the role O'Toole now fills.

Lisa Peterson directs The Quality of Life, playing at Arena Stage's temporary home in Crystal City in Arlington, VA. (While its Washington, DC, headquarters are being expanded, Arena is playing in borrowed spaces in and around DC.)

The Quality of Life is produced by Arena Stage in association with Jonathan Reinis Productions and Stephen Eich, who plan to take the play to a commercial future.

According to Arena notes, from Emmy Award-winning writer Jane Anderson ("Mad Men," "Normal") comes a play "filled with compassion, honesty and humor. In the wake of devastating personal tragedies, two cousins meet one weekend in an attempt to forge a friendship out of distant familial bonds. Steady, gentle Dinah [O'Toole] and husband Bill [O'Rourke], reeling from the loss of their daughter, find comfort in spirituality. Meanwhile, rebellious, energetic Jeanette [Day] and her ailing husband Neil [Schnetzer] mitigate illness and the destruction of their home through alternative practices. Can these couples from widely different political and religious backgrounds join together to confront their physical and emotional challenges of loss and survival?"

* O'Toole is an Oscar nominee for Best Song for the film "A Mighty Wind." She played Martha Kent on TV's "Smallville." She recently appeared in Magnolia at the Goodman Theatre. Day appeared in Broadway's August: Osage County and Proof and won the Helen Hayes Award for The Rainmaker at Arena Stage. O'Rourke appeared in Broadway's revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Kathleen Turner. Schnetzer was recently Voltaire in Arena's Legacy of Light and was in the company of Broadway and Arena's The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?.

The creative team includes set designer Neil Patel, costume designer Ilona Somogyi, lighting designer Alexander V. Nichols, sound designer John Gromada and stage manager Susan R. White.

Anderson's plays have been produced Off-Broadway and in theatres around the country, including A.C.T., Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Williamstown Theatre Festival, McCarter Theatre Center, Long Wharf Theatre, the Geffen Playhouse, and Pasadena Playhouse. Her published plays include Looking for Normal, The Baby Dance, Defying Gravity, Smart Choices for the New Century, Lynette at 3am and The Last Time We Saw Her. Other works include The Pink Studio and Hotel Oubliette (Susan Smith Blackburn Prize). Anderson wrote and directed the film "The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio." She wrote and directed "Normal" for HBO, which garnered six Emmy Award nominations, three Golden Globe Award nominations, and Directors Guild of America and Writers Guild of America award nominations for outstanding directing and writing. She wrote HBO's "The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom," for which she received an Emmy, a Writers Guild Award, and a PEN Center USA Award for Best Teleplay.

Tickets may be purchased online at, by phone at (202) 488-3300 or at the Arena Stage Sales Office at 1800 S. Bell Street, Arlington, VA.


With the opening of the new Mead Center for American Theater in 2010, Arena Stage will be a leading center for the production, presentation, development and study of American theatre. Now in its sixth decade, Arena Stage serves a diverse annual audience of more than 200,000.

Annette O'Toole, Johanna Day and Stephen Schnetzer in <i>The Quality of Life</i>
Annette O'Toole, Johanna Day and Stephen Schnetzer in The Quality of Life Photo by Scott Suchman
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