With work nearly completed on its new $32 million facility, Playwrights Horizons is looking forward to the future -- and looking back at its past. The venerable theater company will inaugurate its new Edith K. Ehrman Building in January with concert performances of Falsettos, Violet, Floyd Collins, and Laughing Wild, shows it initially nurtured in its old space. Most of the cast members and directors from the original productions are participating, helping to provide a sense of continuity as the company and its supporters get accustomed to the new digs.
The musicals will be presented in the 198-seat Mainstage Theater on the first floor of the Ehrman building, located at 416 West 42nd Street; the old building at that site was razed to make way for the new one, so the address remains the same. The only non-musical of the series, Laughing Wild, will be performed in the Peter Jay Sharp Studio Theater --a venue that can seat 96 to 128, depending on how it is configured. Both theaters are accessible to patrons in wheelchairs.
The series will begin with Falsettos, starring Michael Rupert, Alison Fraser, Chip Zien, Heather MacRae, Faith Prince, Brent Barrett, and Janet Metz. Written by William Finn and originally directed by James Lapine, the show was presented at Playwrights Horizons as two separate, stand-alone musicals -- March of the Falsettos in 1981 and Falsettoland in 1990 -- before the combined work was presented on Broadway, winning Tony awards for its score and book. The concert version, directed by Lonny Price, will run at Playwrights January 9-12; its first performance is already sold out.
Laughing Wild,by Christopher Durang, will run from January 13-15, starring Durang and E. Catherine Carr. The three-section work examines, Rashomon-like, an altercation involving a blocked supermarket aisle and a can of tuna that exceeds a shopper's grasp.
Violet, a musical by Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley, will playing January 16-19. Based on The Ugliest Pilgrim by Doris Betts, it won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best New Musical and the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical when it debuted at Playwrights in 1997. Susan H. Shulman, who directed that production, will also direct the concert; and Lauren Ward will return to the title role of a disfigured Southern woman who travels to see a washed-up preacher in hopes that he can remove the scar from her face. Ward will be joined by fellow original cast members Stephen Lee Anderson, Michael McElroy, Cass Morgan, Roz Ryan, and Michael Park.
The series will end with Floyd Collins, Adam Guettel and Tina Landau, which won the 1996 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical. Landau, who directed the show at Playwrights in 1996, will also direct the concert version, featuring original cast members Stephen Lee Anderson, Matthew Bennett, Jason Danieley, Martin Moran, and Cass Morgan. Romain Frugé, who played Floyd in a 1999 tour, will perform the role in place of Christopher Innvar.
Tickets for are priced at $35 for Laughing Wild and $60 for each of the musicals, except for special benefit performances on January 12, 16, and 23. Tickets for those shows, which will be hosted by the creative teams and followed by receptions with the casts and companies, are $150, of which $90 is a tax-deductible donation to Playwrights Horizons' Building for the Future Fund.