Filmed in Northern California by Hallmark Hall of Fame. Executive producer, Richard Welsh; co-executive producer, Francine LeFrak; producers, Rick Rosenberg , Bob Christiansen; co-producer, Brent Shields; director, John Korty; based on Lanford Wilson's play, adapted by Ed Namzug; director of photography, Ronnie Taylor; editor, Scott Vickrey; production design, Fred Harpman; music, Lawrence Shragge; costumes, Jennifer Parsons; casting, Phyllis Huffman, Olivia Harris. #Cast: Jeff Daniels, John Lithgow, Lea Salonga, Debra Monk, Catherine Hicks. On Broadway two years ago, Lanford Wilson's "Redwood Curtain" was a short-lived, fuzzy fairy tale about an Amerasian piano prodigy whose search for her biological father takes her to California's redwood forest, apparently populated by Vietnam vets unable to reintegrate with society. Despite an edgy, funny performance by Debra Monk as the girl's aunt, the play was a spookily amorphous affair, featuring an all but unrecognizably hirsute Jeff Daniels as the most weirded-out member of that disenfranchised sect.

Filmed in Northern California by Hallmark Hall of Fame. Executive producer, Richard Welsh; co-executive producer, Francine LeFrak; producers, Rick Rosenberg , Bob Christiansen; co-producer, Brent Shields; director, John Korty; based on Lanford Wilson’s play, adapted by Ed Namzug; director of photography, Ronnie Taylor; editor, Scott Vickrey; production design, Fred Harpman; music, Lawrence Shragge; costumes, Jennifer Parsons; casting, Phyllis Huffman, Olivia Harris. #Cast: Jeff Daniels, John Lithgow, Lea Salonga, Debra Monk, Catherine Hicks. On Broadway two years ago, Lanford Wilson’s “Redwood Curtain” was a short-lived, fuzzy fairy tale about an Amerasian piano prodigy whose search for her biological father takes her to California’s redwood forest, apparently populated by Vietnam vets unable to reintegrate with society. Despite an edgy, funny performance by Debra Monk as the girl’s aunt, the play was a spookily amorphous affair, featuring an all but unrecognizably hirsute Jeff Daniels as the most weirded-out member of that disenfranchised sect.

Not so Ed Namzug’s ponderous, cliche-riddled adaptation. The biggest loser is Monk, who reprises here, but with the spirit drained from a character who lives among those vets while fighting the good fight to save the big trees. Ditto Daniels, who’s a lot less hairy in both senses of the word.

On the other hand, director John Korty draws a nicely restrained performance out of John Lithgow, as the girl’s understanding adoptive father. And there’s a certain irony in the casting: Lea Salonga makes her telefilm debut as the Amerasian girl, Geri Riordan; it is Salonga who won a Tony Award playing the title role in “Miss Saigon,” about a young woman who falls in love with an American GI and bears their love child.

Salonga is a tiny actress with a tremulous pop soprano that asserted itself on the Broadway stage; on the small screen, however, she makes little impression , even as a character playing the piano with orchestras in big concert halls. Geri is long on technique and short on passion, the missing part of an emotional puzzle she hopes will be complete when she finds her father. But as played by Salonga, she never gets there from here.

Redwood Curtain

(Sun. (23), 9-11 p.m., ABC)

Production

The one thing the play had going for it was Wilson's perfect pitch; even when his dramaturgy goes mawkishly haywire, Wilson has few peers in the art of putting words in people's mouths. As a rumination on the tangled, haunted aftermath of the war that defined the era, "Redwood Curtain" didn't work, but it didn't hurt, either.
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