Pulitzers Play Little Rock: THREE TALL WOMEN at the Weekend Theatre

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Photo by Karen E. Segrave

Edward Albee received his third Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for THREE TALL WOMEN.  It not only marked his return to the Pulitzer fold, it was his first critical success in nearly two decades.

In April 2001, the Weekend Theatre presented the play.  Directed by John Haman, the play featured Glenda Hope Fortenbury, Deb Lewis and Sue Diaz as C, B, and A, respectively — the trio of the title.   The relationships between the characters may or may not change in the play.  As with most Albee plays, much is enigmatic.

2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the first Pulitzer Prize for Drama being given. To pay tribute to 100 years of the Pulitzer for Drama, each day this month a different Little Rock production of a Pulitzer Prize winning play will be highlighted.  Many of these titles have been produced numerous times.  This look will veer from high school to national tours in an attempt to give a glimpse into Little Rock’s breadth and depth of theatrical history.

World premiere of Phillip McMath’s play KARSKI’S MESSAGE next at Weekend Theater

Karaskis-Message-Poster_LgThe latest offering of the Weekend Theater is a world premiere of Phillip McMath’s new play, Karski’s Message.

A local playwright, lawyer and historian, McMath based the play on the true story of Jan Karski, a Polish World War II resistance fighter and later professor at Georgetown University. In 1942 and 1943, Karski escaped capture and near death to report to the Western Allies — Britain and the United States — on the situation in German-occupied Poland, especially the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto and the secretive German-Nazi extermination camps. Karski personally met with world leaders, telling them about the situation in Poland, becoming the first eyewitness to try to convince the world that the Jewish Holocaust was a reality.

The cast includes Ryan Whitfield, Jeff Lewellen, Terry White, Brice Ward, Madison Wolfe, Barry Clifton, Tommie Tinker, Ann Norris, Deb Lewis, Bill Jones, Alexander White, Elijah White, Lauren Lasseigne and Justin Wolfe.  It is directed by Matthew Mentgen.

The play opened last night and continues its run tonight, April 17 & 18 and April 24 & 25. Curtain times are 7:30.

 

OTHER DESERT CITIES at the Weekend Theater

Other_Desert_Cities-PosterChristmas in California.  Snow may not be on the ground. A fire may not be needed in the fireplace. But the Wyeth family has plenty of frostiness and heat when the prodigal daughter returns.

A finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Jon Robin Baitz’s Other Desert Cities involves a family with differing political views and a long-held family secret. Brooke Wyeth returns home to Palm Springs after a six-year absence to celebrate Christmas with her parents, her brother, and her aunt. Brooke announces that she is about to publish a memoir dredging up a pivotal and tragic event in the family’s history—a wound they don’t want reopened. In effect, she draws a line in the sand and dares them all to cross it.

The cast includes Judy Trice, Alan Douglas, Deb Lewis, Drew Ellis and Samantha Porter.  The production is directed by Ralph Hyman.

The show opened last night and continues tonight. It also plays at 7:30 pm on Fridays and Saturdays through December 20.  Tickets are $16 for adults and $12 for students and seniors.

THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE continues at Weekend Theater

Beauty-Queen_smThe Lortel and Tony winning dark comedy The Beauty Queen of Leenane continues its run at the Weekend Theater tonight.

Written by Oscar winner Martin McDongah, this play is set in the mountains of Connemara County, Galway, Ireland and tells the darkly comic tale of Maureen Folan, a plain and lonely woman in her early forties, and Mag, her manipulative aging mother, whose interference in Maureen’s first and possibly final chance of a loving relationship sets in motion a train of events that leads inexorably towards the play’s terrifying dénouement.

Director, Deb Lewis, explains that she chose to direct The Beauty Queen of Leenane because, “It’s a very intriguing story; it touches people on a lot of emotional levels. Everybody has experienced some kind of abuse in their lives . . . this play will resonate with people. Abuse is sadly pervasive, and my hope is that through this story people will be more aware of what’s going on.”

“It’s got love, comedy, violence, tragedy, sex . . . There’s everything in this show. ” Explains actor Tommie Tinker. “It’s like a dark, absurdist thriller,” adds actor Jacob Sturgeon. In summing up the play and the struggles the characters face, actress Amy Young says, “No matter how bad things are, it can get worse.”

The cast features Amy Young, Elizabeth Reha, Tommie Tinker and Jacob Sturgeon.

The show plays at 7:30 tonight.  It will also be performed on Friday, September 5 and Saturday, September 6.

The 2014-2015 season for the Weekend Theater

WeekendTheaterThe Weekend Theater has announced its 2014-2015 season.  It will kick off next month with the Tony-nominated musical Caroline, or Change.  The season includes classic plays and musicals as well as more recent shows.

Caroline, or Change

Book and Lyrics by Tony Kushner
Score by Jeanine Tesori
June 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 2014
Directed by Matthew Mentgen
Music Direction by Lori Isner

Winner of the Laurence Olivier Award and the Lucille Lortel Award for Best New Musical, Caroline, or Change centers its action on the Gellman family and their African-American maid, Caroline. It is 1963 in sleepy Lake Charles, Louisiana. Caroline is drifting through her life as a single mother of four working in a service job to a white family. A fragile, yet beautiful friendship develops between the young Gellman son, Noah (who has lost his mother), and Caroline. Noah’s stepmother Rose, unable to give Caroline a raise, tells Caroline that she may keep the money Noah leaves in his pockets. Caroline balks, and refuses to take money from a child, but her own children desperately need food, clothing and shoes. Regardless of the circumstances, whether it is the death of President Kennedy, her daughter’s growing activism and misunderstood dismissal of what she perceives to be Caroline’s choice to remain a maid, her son’s enlistment in Vietnam, a fight with a newly college-bound friend, or a spin with the dryer, Caroline remains unflappable.

 


Next To Normal

Book and Lyrics by Brian Yorkey
Music by Tom Kitt
July 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, 2014
Directed by Ralph Hyman
Music Direction by Lori Isner

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Next To Normal tells the story of a mother, Diane Goodman, who struggles with bipolar disorder and the effect that her illness has on her family. This contemporary musical is an emotional powerhouse that addresses such issues as grieving a loss, ethics in modern psychiatry, and suburban life. With provocative lyrics and a thrilling score, this musical shows how far two parents will go to keep themselves sane and their family’s world intact.

 


The Beauty Queen of Leenane

By Martin McDonagh
August 22, 23, 29, 30, September 5, 6, 2014
Directed by Deb Lewis

Co-winner of the 1998 Lucille Lortel Award for outstanding play and set in the mountains of Connemara County, Galway, Ireland, The Beauty Queen of Leenane tells the darkly comic tale of Maureen Folan, a plain and lonely woman in her early forties, and Mag, her manipulative aging mother, whose interference in Maureen’s first and possibly final chance of a loving relationship sets in motion a train of events that leads inexorably towards the play’s terrifying dénouement.


A Quiet End

By Robin Swados
September 26, 27, October 3, 4, 10, 11, 2014
Directed by Ryan Whitfield

Written in 1985, A Quiet End was one of the earliest dramas to deal with the AIDS crisis in the United States. Three men, a teacher, an aspiring jazz pianist and an unemployed actor, are in a rundown Manhattan apartment. All have lost their jobs and are shunned by their families; they have AIDS. Their interaction with a psychiatrist heard but not seen throughout the play and the entrance of an ex-lover healthy yet unsure of his future provide a forum for exploring the meaning of friendship, loyalty and love. By celebrating the lives of men who, in the face of death, become fearlessly life embracing, the play explores the human side of the AIDS crisis.

 


Topdog/Underdog

By Suzan-Lori Parks
October 31, November 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 2014
Directed by Jermaine McClure

Winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Topdog/Underdog, a darkly comic fable of brotherly love and family identity, is Suzan-Lori Parks’ latest riff on the way we are defined by history. The play tells the story of Lincoln and Booth, two African American brothers whose names were given to them as a joke, foretelling a lifetime of sibling rivalry and resentment. Haunted by the past, the brothers are forced to confront the shattering reality of their future. Vibrating with the clamor of big ideas, audaciously and exuberantly expressed, this play considers nothing less than the existential traps of being African-American and male in the United States, the masks that wear the men as well as vice versa.

 


Other Desert Cities

By Jon Robin Baitz
December 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 2014
Directed by Ralph Hyman

A finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Other Desert Cities involves a family with differing political views and a long-held family secret. Brooke Wyeth returns home to Palm Springs after a six-year absence to celebrate Christmas with her parents, her brother, and her aunt. Brooke announces that she is about to publish a memoir dredging up a pivotal and tragic event in the family’s history—a wound they don’t want reopened. In effect, she draws a line in the sand and dares them all to cross it.

 


No Exit

By Jean-Paul Sartre
Adapted from the French by Paul Bowles
January 16, 17, 23, 24, 30, 31, 2015
Directed by Tommie Tinker

In No Exit, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Jean-Paul Sartre tells his story of two women and one man, who are locked up together for eternity in one hideous room in hell. The windows are bricked up; there are no mirrors; the electric lights can never be turned off; and there is no exit. The irony of this hell is that its torture is not of the rack and fire, but of the burning humiliation of each soul as it is stripped of its pretenses by the cruel curiosity of the damned. Here the soul is shorn of secrecy, and even the blackest deeds are mercilessly exposed to the fierce light of hell. It is an eternal torment.

 


The Sound of Music

Music by Richard Rodgers, Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II,
Book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, based on the memoir of Maria von Trapp

February 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, March 1, 2015
Directed by Elizabeth Reha
Music Direction by Lisa Petursson

Winner of five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, this final collaboration between Rodgers & Hammerstein was destined to become the world’s most beloved musical. When a postulant proves too high-spirited for the religious life, she is dispatched to serve as governess for the seven children of a widowed naval Captain. Her growing rapport with the youngsters, coupled with her generosity of spirit, gradually captures the heart of the stern Captain, and they marry. Upon returning from their honeymoon they discover that Austria has been invaded by the Nazis, who demand the Captain’s immediate service in their navy. The family’s narrow escape over the mountains to Switzerland on the eve of World War II provides one of the most thrilling and inspirational finales ever presented in the theatre. The motion picture version of The Sound of Music remains the most popular movie musical of all time.

 


Last Summer at Bluefish Cove

By Jane Chambers
March 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28, 2015
Directed by Lana Hallmark

Winner of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award and seven Hollywood Drama-Logue Awards, Last Summer at Bluefish Cove is the story of a dissatisfied straight woman who leaves her husband to spend some quiet time by herself and who unwittingly and naively wanders into the midst of a group of seven lesbians at the beginning of their annual beachside vacation. She falls in love with the charming leading character who, unknown to her, is dying of cancer. The friendships, the laughter, the love, the fears of being outed, the difficulties of being gay and how it affects relationships with family, children, parents and careers, the demonstrations of what the painful price could be for a gay life 30 years ago in everyday America, had never before been told with such respect. Chambers’ comedic dialogue, sensitivity to human nature and tender treatment of her characters help the play transcend preconceptions and show the universality of these women’s journeys, whether straight or gay.

 


Karski’s Message

By Phillip McMath
April 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25, 2015
Directed by Ralph Hyman

A World Premier of local playwright, lawyer and historian Phillip McMath’s well-crafted story of how no one listened or helped when the genocide of the Jews was happening, Karski’s Message is the story of Jan Karski, a Polish World War II resistance movement fighter and later professor at Georgetown University. In 1942 and 1943, Karski reported to the Polish government in exile and the Western Allies, Britain and the United States, on the situation in German-occupied Poland, especially the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto, and the secretive German-Nazi extermination camps. Karski personally met with President Roosevelt in the Oval Office, telling him about the situation in Poland and becoming the first eyewitness to tell him about the Jewish Holocaust. During their meeting Roosevelt asked about the condition of horses in Poland. Roosevelt did not ask one question about the Jews.

 


The Member of the Wedding

By Carson McCullers
May 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, 30, 2015
Directed by Margaret Pierson Bates

Winner of the 1950 Critics’ Circle Award as the best play, Carson McCullers’ report of a harum-scarum adolescent girl in Georgia is wonderfully—almost painfully—perceptive; and her associated sketches of a Negro mammy and a busy little boy are masterly pieces of writing. This is a study of loneliness is felt, observed and phrased with exceptional sensitivity. The Member of the Wedding deals with the torturing dreams, the hungry egotism, and the heartbreak of childhood in a manner as rare as it is welcome.