"We are all civilized people, which means that we are all savages at heart but observing a few amenities of civilized behavior," writes Tennessee Williams in his introduction to Sweet Bird of Youth. Goodman Theatre opens its 2012/2013 Season with a major revival of Williams' 1959 play directed by Chicago native David Cromer. As previously announced, Academy Award nominee Diane Lane portrays Alexandra del Lago, an aging Hollywood screen siren on a journey with an unlikely soul mate, Chance Wayne (Broadway's Finn Wittrock)-an ineffectual drifter whose youth and promise have begun to fade.
Cromer's 17-member cast includes John Byrnes as Dan Hatcher; Sean Cooper as the Heckler; Maggie Corbett as Edna; Jennifer Engstrom as Miss Lucy; Peter Fitzsimmons as Scotty; KrisTina Johnson as Heavenly Finley; John Judd as Boss Finley; Colm O'Reilly as George Scudder; Tyler Ravelson as Stuff; Penny Slusher as Aunt Nonnie; D'Wayne Taylor as Charles; Vincent Teninty as Tom Jr.; Dan Waller as Bud; R. Charles Wilkerson as Fly; and Kara Zediker as Violet.
Sweet Bird of Youth runs September 14 – October 25, 2012 (Opening Night is September 24) in the Goodman's Albert Theatre. Tickets ($27 - 88; subject to change) are now on sale and can be purchased at GoodmanTheatre.org, by phone at 312.443.3800 or at the box office (170 North Dearborn).
"Sweet Bird of Youth is one of Tennessee Williams' most subversive, complex and uncompromising examinations of the world of the formerly beautiful. Bringing this play to the stage is a formidable task, and there is no one more qualified to meet this challenge than David Cromer," said Artistic Director Robert Falls, who worked with Cromer as an actor in Falls' 2002 production of Long Day's Journey into Night at the Goodman.
"Every one of us has a complicated relationship with time passing. It's something we don't talk about," said Cromer, a multiple Jeff Award winner and 2010 MacArthur Fellow who makes his Goodman directorial debut with this production. "Sweet Bird of Youth is this wild, vibrant, undulating play-just wind and palm trees swaying, and seagulls flapping past, and you can hear the sound of the ocean throughout it-and then there's this sort of horror. I've always loved Tennessee Williams for that juxtaposition, and I can't imagine doing this play anywhere but at the Goodman with this incredible company of actors."
One of Tennessee Williams' "finest dramas" in which he "daintily peels off layer after layer of the skin, body and spirit of his characters and leaves their nature exposed in the hideous humor and pathos of the truth (The New York Times), Sweet Bird of Youth opens in the Gulf Coast hotel suite of Princess Kosmonopolis (Lane), an aging Hollywood starlet, and Chance Wayne (Wittrock), an actor-turned-gigolo pushing 30. Chance has just brought the Princess to his hometown after the disastrous premiere of her latest film, and hopes to use her fame and connections to win back his former love, Heavenly (Johnson), whose powerful father Boss Finley (Judd) drove him out of town years earlier. But when a mistake from his past resurfaces, Chance's plan quickly unravels and the pair are forced to confront their crumbling dreams.
The creative team for Sweet Bird of Youth includes James Schuette (Set and Costume Designer), Keith Parham (Lighting Designer), Josh Schmidt (Sound Designer and Composer), Maya Ciarrocchi (Projections) Kate Devore (Dialect and Vocal Coach), David Woolley (Fight Choreographer) and Neena Arndt (Dramaturg). Joseph Drummond is the Production Stage Manager. Visit Goodman Theatre's Press Room for bios and imagery for the 2012/2013 Season.
Insider Access Series
Meet the names and faces behind the work on stage, including playwrights and directors, and gain insight into the artistic process with Goodman Theatre's Insider Access series of public programs.
Artist Encounter: A conversation with Director David Cromer about Sweet Bird of Youth Wednesday, September 19; 6 – 7pm | Goodman Theatre's Healy Rehearsal Room $5 General admission; free to Subscribers, students with ID and Goodman donors; Call 312.443.3800
Following each Wednesday and Thursday performance of Sweet Bird of Youth, audiences are invited to attend free post-show discussions with members of the artistic staff.
Goodman Theatre, "the leading regional theater in the nation's most important theater city" (Time), is a major cultural, educational and economic pillar in Chicago, generating nearly $300 million in economic impact over the past decade in its state-of-the-art two-theater complex on North Dearborn Street. Founded in 1925 and currently under the leadership of Artistic Director Robert Falls, "Chicago's most essential director" (Chicago Tribune), and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, Chicago's oldest and largest not-for-profit resident theater has welcomed nearly two million patrons to productions and events-including 10 festivals celebrating playwrights such as David Mamet, August Wilson and Horton Foote, as well as the biennial Latino Theatre Festival-and served legions of students through its Education and Community Engagement programs (including the FREE Student Subscription Series and other interactive programs). The Goodman has earned more than 90 awards for hundreds of productions, including the Pulitzer Prize for Ruined by Lynn Nottage-one of 25 new work Goodman commissions in the last decade. American Airlines is the Exclusive Airline of Goodman Theatre. Ruth Ann M. Gillis is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Sherry John is the President of Women's Board.
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Photo © RD / Orchon / Retna Digital.