Lee Blessing has hit one out of the ballpark: His new bioplay, “Cobb,” has landed at the much-sought-after Lucille Lortel Theater in Greenwich Village, with a November opening planned. Producers are the Melting Pot Theatre Co., Trigger Street Prods. and Kevin Spacey.
Author of “A Walk in the Woods” and “Eleemosynary,” Blessing first saw his Ty Cobb drama produced this year at Melting Pot, where it began previews April 10 and had its original six-week run extended two weeks under unusual but felicitous circumstances.: Spacey saw the show about the baseball legend, one of game’s most revered and reviled figures, and gave the company enough money to pay for the extra performances.
Thesp kicks up dust
“It’s the kind of theater I like to encourage,” the actor told the New York Times last spring. “I don’t mind kicking up a little dust to get people to pay attention to something like this.”
Directed by Joe Brancato, “Cobb” provides a triptych of the ballplayer’s career with three actors — Michael Cullen, Matt Mabe and Michael Sabatino — who portray Cobb at different stages of his life. Mabe had been an understudy in the 1998-99 Broadway revival of “The Iceman Cometh,” which marked Spacey’s most recent turn on the Gotham stage.
In the midst of an Off Broadway theater crunch, the Lucille Lortel has remained dark since the closing in mid-April of Noel Coward’s “Suite in Two Keys.”
The 299-seat venue’s owner and producer, Lucille Lortel, who died last year, had stipulated that the theater could be made available only to productions from the not-for-profit world.
Louis Schweitzer, Lortel’s husband, bought the Theater de Lys in 1955 as a wedding anniversary present for his wife, who promptly produced “The Threepenny Opera” there. The Kurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht work ran for seven years at the Christopher Street venue, which has been renamed the Lucille Lortel Theatre.
As manager of the space, Ben Sprecher said Lortel’s recent stipulation had not made it difficult to find a suitable production for the theater. “We’ve just been very picky choosing the right play,” he said.