New plays, unseen Tennessee Williams work on slate

SOUTHBURY, Conn. — After many years without an agreement with Actors’ Equity, the late Lucille Lortel’s White Barn Theater in Westport, Conn., has re-signed with Equity and will once again be mounting productions of plays this summer instead of relying mostly on cabaret acts and one-person shows as it has in recent seasons.

Included in the theater’s 2001 season, under the general management of Vincent Curcio, will be the world premieres of several new plays, of a hitherto unseen Tennessee Williams work and of a Marc Blitzstein/Leonard Lehrman opera.

The season at the WB, founded by Lortel in 1947, will be launched on July 8 with a White Barn Theater Museum Gala. Event will mark the opening of the 2001 exhibition at the theater’s museum, “From the White Barn to Broadway and Beyond,” curated by the museum’s director Mary C. Henderson with associate curator Sandy Starr. With Eileen Heckart as honorary chair and directed by Donald Saddler, the gala will also include a reading of excerpts from “Silk Road Journal” by playwright Dale Ramsey and entertainment by Jo Sullivan Loesser, George S. Irving and Carey Perloff.

Actual performances will be given July 13-15 with the long-delayed premiere of Tennessee Williams’ “occidental noh” play “The Day on Which a Man Dies,” directed by Arthur Storch; cast includes Tanya Lopert. “Deconstructing Mary,” with Mary Testa, will play July 20-22.

Paul Shyre’s Sean O’Casey adaptation “I Knock at the Door” will be revived July 27-29, directed by Stuart Vaughan; cast includes Jerome Kilty.

Perloff’s new play “The Colossus of Rhodes” will be given its premiere Aug. 3-5, directed by Loy Arcenas. A TBA “musical evening” will be presented Aug. 10-12.

Anarchist opera

Set for Aug. 17-19 is another long-delayed premiere: a concert version of the hitherto unfinished opera “Sacco and Vanzetti,” with music and lyrics by Blitzstein (who died in 1964) which has been completed by Lehrman.

The following weekend, Aug. 24-26, will see the premiere of David Foley’s new play “Sad Hotel,” which is about the later life of Tennessee Williams.

Season will close Aug. 31-Sept. 2 with a new musical, “Sheba,” based on William Inge’s play “Come Back, Little Sheba,” with Donna McKechnie as Lola. Tuner features music by Clint Ballard, book and lyrics by Lee Goldsmith, direction by Leslie B. Cutler, choreography by Donald Saddler, orchestrations by Ralph Burns and musical direction by Glen Clugston.

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