It was perhaps inevitable that Lanford Wilson should finally cross pens with Anton Chekhov. Wilson, who has limned the American landscape with an acute Chehkovian ear for the revealing detours of conversational speech, carried over his talents in his new translation of The Three Sisters. The results, which were commissioned by Mark Lamos for last spring’s production at the Hartford Stage Company, have moved to Chicago, where the Steppenwolf Theatre Company is staging it under the direction of Austin Pendleton. Aside from Wilson’s interpretation, the Steppenwolf staging (which premiered Dec. 5) should be notable for its yearning siblings, played by Barbara Harris (Olga), Joan Allen (Masha) and Moira Harris (Irina).
When Ruth Nelson stepped into the Cleveland Play House production of The Royal Family this fall, she carried with her an authentic sense of the Barrymore tradition lovingly recreated by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber. Nelson made her New York debut in the title role of Martine in 1928, when the Barrymore “monarchy” held forth in the grand Broadway manner.
Ellis Rabb, a Royal Family veteran from 1975 (when he staged and starred in a successful New York revival), is turning his attentions to new works once again. After one last descent into Broadway archaeology (last year’s all-star production of You Can’t Take It with You), Rabb has landed upon a fresh seven-character work by Herb Gardner. It’s called I’m Not Rappaport, and it zeroes in on two Oc togenarians in Central Park: a Russian Jew and a black. The Seattle Repertory Theatre is having the first peek at the duo this month, and if they and the production prove compatible, they will move on to one more city before benching in New York.
Christina Tannen, former managing director of the Hippodrome State Theatre in Gainesville, Fla. returned to that position after a maternity hiatus and a brief stint as the company’s business manager. Tannen replaces Paul Bennett. Further up the eastern coast, Paul Mroczka has been tapped as the associate director of New Hampshire’s Theatre by the Sea 1984-85 season. Mrocka, who has made his mark in new play development at TBS, brings to his new post over a decade of expertise as playwright, director, actor and teacher.
The League of Resident Theatres held elections at its October semiannual meeting, hosted by the Virginia Museum Theatre in Rich-mond. LORT’s new officers are president Sara O’Connor (managing director of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, vice president Tom Hall (managing director of San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre), Treasurer Alison Harris (managing director of the McCarter Theatre of Princeton, N.J.) and secretary Ira Schlosser (managing director of the Virginia Museum Theatre).
Last season’s musical comedy surprise was the song-and-dance debut of Star Wars wonder-boy Mark Hamill, who raised a number of eyebrows for his vaudeville finesse in the Good-speed Opera House Production of Harrigan ‘N’ Hart. The well-received new musical about a 19th-century show-biz team shuffles into New York this month, Hamill ‘n’ all.
Bologna’s Arena del Sole has an arresting new voice in Russian director Yuri Lyubimov, who has recently signed a two-year contract to serve as artistic director. Lyubimov plunged into his new role with his staging of the season opener, Crime and Punishment.
The fall of 1984 witnessed the sad passing of three indispensible theatre people whose commitment to their respective areas represented the summit of professionalism. Susan Socolowski, the indefatigable director of development for Mabou Mines, died suddenly in Morristown, N.J. following a brief illness. Prior to her stint at Mabou Mines, Susan worked in a variety of capacities with the New Jersey Theatre Group and the Indiana Repertory Theatre. Her parents have requested that contributions in her memory be made to Mabou Mines.
A month after stepping down from his 16-year tenure as producing director of the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Michael W. Leibert died at the age of 44. Leibert was a pioneer of Bay Area Theatre, founding the Berkeley Rep in 1968 as a company dedicated to reflecting the social and philosophical concerns of the community. Leibert leaves behind a muscular, energetic troupe which echoes his legacy of exemplary contemporary and classical productions.
Kenneth E. Hahn, managing director of the Nassau Repertory Theatre for the last five years, succumbed to cancer at 34. Hahn first became associated with the company in 1977, serving initially as artist, technical director and associate manager. He was respected by his associates as a stubborn visionary who thought with his heart before his head, and whose singular dream was the development of a forceful Nassau company.
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