Well, by Lisa Kron
This was the official website for the Broadway play, Well, by Lisa Kron. The content is from the site's 2006 archived pages and other commentary.
In 2006 I was staying at a beachfront rental Maui condo finishing up the final draft of a screen play. This was a working vacation with the emphasis on working, although my girlfriend would beg to differ. We were enjoying the fabulous beaches part of each day. I got my morning exercise snorkeling for an hour and then going for a run. We had driven the winding Hana Road and done numerous hikes. All this is true. But I also spent at least five hours a day rewriting and polishing the screen play. An entertainment reviewer who was a friend of mine sent an email to tell me that Lisa Krom play was to close on May 14th. I was dismayed. It had opened to some of the best reviews for any play of the 2006 season and I was looking forward to seeing it when we returned to NY. My friend said that it simply was pulling in enough audience to keep it running. Perhaps because it didn't have a name actor, star playwright or Pulitzer Prize audiences weren't a s keen to see it. What a shame. I decided to cut this working vacation in Maui short by three days so we could catch the last performance. I could always return to this tropical paradise anytime. So glad we did see Well. It made me laugh and cry which is saying something when you are seeing a comedy about comedy about mothers, daughters, health, wellness, community, racism and more. As one reviewer said, " this is a wild, and wildly affecting, comic ride in which there are apparently no rules."
Jayne Houdyshell appeared in WELL at The Public Theater, receiving a 2004 OBIE award for her performance as well as Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel and Outer Critics nominations. After thirty-two years as a professional actress, Jayne is making her Broadway Debut in WELL. Check back here every Tuesday to read about Jayne’s adventures with WELL.
Tues. 5/9: Woke today with a heavy heart knowing that the week ahead was going to be filled with so many "last times" ..... but the good thing about the day was that my dearest friend, Jan Puffer would be flying in from Minneapolis. Jan is a brilliant actor and choreographer... we have known one another since we were both 18.... we went to acting school together. I met Jan at 1:00 pm and spent the better part of the afternoon with her over a long lunch and many cups of coffee. It was a
comfort and a healthy distraction to see her. I went to the theater at about 5:00 pm to get ready for our evening show.... walking onto 48th St, I thought to myself "Jayne, just be a pro and go up to your dressing room and calmly get ready for the show tonight." I entered the Longacre, greeted the doorman, signed in, and said a quick hello to PSM Susie Cordon.... once in my dressing room I found waiting for me a note from Monica who had been cleaning our dressing rooms daily for all these weeks.... it was a note, regarding our closing that was so unspeakably sweet that I burst into sobs....Susie heard me and came up and gave me a great big hug.... when I pulled myself together I said "I'm sure you’ve seen a lot of shows come and go?"... and she replied, "yes Jayne, but this one hurts more than almost all of em" so .... there it was.... closing this one was just gonna be hard ... AND we had 8 more to do... and I wanted more than anything to close feeling good about those last 8..... at half hour... Liz McCaan and Jeanne Donovan Fisher met with the entire company onstage.... Liz and Jeanne assured us that even though the fiscal realities demanded that we close, we were nothing less than an artistic triumph and they were so proud of the production. We then had a good solid performance for a nice sized house. After the show an old friend, Linda Gehringer from LA surprised me backstage, I hadn’t seen Linda in over 15 years, she and Jan and I went out with the rest of the company for a bite to eat, and had a great time catching up on one another’s lives. Linda and I had acted together in productions of The Children’s Hour, and All My Sons back in the 80's in Detroit.
Wed. 5/10: Today started the day meeting the brilliant British actress Miriam Margolyes for brunch. Miriam was in town playing Miss Prism in The Importance of Being Earnest at BAM. She had been kind enough to see WELL during a matinee the previous week and wanted to get together to meet and talk a bit. She was delightful, and had so many interesting tales to tell about her rich and varied career in television, film and theater, both in LA and in London. I was so pleased to have the opportunity to get to know her a bit. Then, to the Longacre for our matinee.... again the house was a nice size... clearly word was out that we were closing and people were buying tickets quickly. It was a comfort to know that many people wanted to catch WELL while they still could. The second show was for an even bigger house and went so well..... really, really charged experiences being onstage this week... everything is playing with clean clarity...our entire company was clearly of one mind.... lets close with a bang! After the play the critic Linda Winer of Newsday led a very good discussion onstage with Lisa and at least 150 audience members stayed to hear it...... so many expressed distress over the fact that we were closing, and were mystified by the low attendance. Of course the question of whether this being a female driven piece had anything to do with the production being considered dismissable came up. Lisa said... "sure... I'm sure it's a factor... and the fact that that is so deeply ingrained and unconscious in our culture makes it difficult to even pinpoint or discuss." Of course I hope that that discussion rises many times in the years ahead when WELL being produced on Broadway is remembered for the groundbreaking historical event that it has been. Lead Producer =woman, Director= woman, Playwright = woman, Starring Actors= women .... now that it has been done once.... it can now be done again and again. Possibility for change happens when risks are taken, and losses are accepted as part of the process of growth.... then... simply risking again.
Thurs. 5/11: Had coffee with Jan and our mutual friend, actor Tom Bloom. Good reunion between old friends.... I went to the theater early and had my usual chats with Wayne (sound operator), Brian (ASM), and Allison (SM) .... we have a routine of talking about how our days have been. This takes place in the alley outside the theater prior to my half hour call. Allison Sommers has created a garden there with chairs, Japanese lanterns, suncatchers and beautiful plants. Her creativity always improves the quality of our lives in the Longacre. I shall miss our pre-show banter in that little oasis. The show tonight was perfectly splendid ... for a large house.... the houses have been growing each night, and the response has been so warm. I love more than ever inhabiting the world of the play.
Friday. 5/12: I met Jan a final time for lunch and then saw her off..... I am very grateful that she was here this week....a centering and grounding person in my life when so much feels off kilter. The performance tonight was just superb... a very big house, and we played the play so strongly. After went out for food with John Hoffman, Christina Kirk, and Lisa...... a very cozy, schmoozy time with people I am going to miss not seeing every day.
Sat. 5/13: Had a very large, wonderful house for the matinee.... saw friends briefly to say hello after..... quick bite of dinner .... short nap..... into costume for second show..... then Susie calls half hour for the rest of the company and places for me. Casts for plays bond in amazing ways....in the course of rehearsals and performance we become a tribe with peculiar rituals and ways of relating. One ritual that I have loved is one started by Leigh when we were performing in previews.... before I go on stage to "sleep" in the chair as the audience comes in.... the rest of the actors and I gather on the stairs leading to our dressing rooms and we sing..... a different song every night.... they literally sing me onto the stage.... so for approx 76 performances a new song has been sung by all of us to start our evening in one voice and with one mind. The energy it generates is perfectly beautiful. Gorgeous voices in this cast.... to a person. We have a huge house..... a huge show..... the play plays as a symphony tonight..... huge ovation at the end..... it is a bittersweet thing.
Sunday 5/14: Mothers Day... Closing Day.
Purchased cole slaw for the company brunch, and a chocolate mousse cake for the closing party after the show. Got to the theater and tried to pack up some things in my dressing room... didn’t have the heart for it..... will go back to the theater on Thursday to handle that hard task. Had brunch and bit of chat with company members, trying not to say too many goodbyes prior to the performance .... went to my dressing room and found on my dressing table a Mother’s Day card signed by all the Ushers ..... again.... had a good cry..... the Front of House staff at the Longacre is just superb... all of the people in the box office and the ushers and the House Manager Russ.... all just wonderful co-workers.... and clearly they are in love with WELL as much as those of us backstage are. The stage hands and board operators too are beautiful guys who have been working so hard on behalf of the play, and wanted very much to see us be there for a long time..... all of us are just so sad to be saying goodbye. Today we had a full house..... packed to the rafters.... and the energy in the audience feels similar to our opening night house..... buzzing with excitement....... when Lisa entered today, the ovation was very moving.... then the play started.... and we all held steady and true and played it fully and with great love, but no last day indulgence.... Lisa and I came up to the last scene and I felt myself start to break.... I saw it in Lisa’s eyes too...... and then..... from out in the house..... a cell phone rang..... loudly. I got so royally pissed off that it snapped me out of the sentiment of the moment.... and I just held ... and then played the rest of the play with a laser like simplicity that I had never discovered before..... and I thought .. hmmm this is interesting.... actually I think its a good fresh take on this moment.... so WELL ended in typical WELL fashion.... still inventing.... still changing.... still looking for the perfect ending. Standing ovation..... proud company..... moved audience.... Up to our dressing rooms back into street clothes..... Back onto the stage for farewell thank you speeches by producers and friends of the production..... Marian Seldes was there and Edward Albee, Tony Walton was present with his beautiful wife, Mike Nichols was there..... I felt shell shocked ... went out to the back alley and said hello to my agent Dianne, and to dear old friends from Boston who had driven all the way to see the play, and were driving back again.... wandered back up to my dressing room.... sat with Lisa and Leigh..... we all looked at one another and said ok ... on to the party... took a cab with Lisa downtown to NY Theater Workshop where we had a very good closing party ... with music and dancing and food made by Randy Danson and Daniel Breakers loving hands...... said good bye to people and went home in a daze..... sleepwalking through this reality.
Mon. 5/15: Nothing pressing to do ..... answered emails and phone calls.... ran errands ... did laundry.... to bed early....
Tues. 5/16: Rose at 6:30 am .... got on a subway at 7:30 and went to Leigh’s apartment and met Lisa there to have breakfast, and to listen to the pod-cast announcement for the Tony nominations. Lisa received a nomination for Best Lead Actress in a Play, and I received a nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Play. I think the way to characterize our response was grateful, sad, numb, happy, perplexed.....for us there has never been a separation between Lisa’s contribution, Leigh’s, my contribution, the other actors.... we serve different functions but its all for and about the same result. When we started working together on this play 4 and half years ago..... it was just about all of us, facilitating Lisa as she created a piece that was new in form and structure, and that was exploring two seemingly unrelated themes and bringing them together in the context of examining her relationship with her Mother. None of us knew when or how it would ever be produced. Now, countless readings, workshops, an off-Broadway, and regional production later ...... we had opened on Broadway to glowing critical acclaim, closed due to devastating box office receipts, and we were headed to the Tony Awards. The complexity and contradictions of our lives in WELL have been imitating Art in the most profound ways...... in the words of ANN KRON as quoted in the play... " this is the purpose of integration, this is what integration means... it means weaving into the whole even the parts that are uncomfortable and don’t seem to fit... even the parts that are complicated and painful. What is more worthy of our time and our love than that?" Lisa Kron created a beautiful play..... Leigh Silverman and John Dias midwifed Lisa’s process, Leigh breathed life into it through an exquisite physical production, the designers created a world and aesthetic through structure, sound, lights, and costumes, the other actors and I have lent our interpretive skills, humanity, and craft, and we all feel so very fortunate to have been part of the whole. This has been WELL.
Tues. 5/2: Had a wonderful free day, and arrived at our home at the Longacre so ready for another week of WELL.... As always the show feels fresh and bright after days of rest.... the audience was a bit larger than our past Tuesdays which is encouraging, and they were so responsive. Hope is still high for an upswing in the box office, on the heels of the Isherwood article in the Times. The beautiful actress Cynthia Nixon was in the audience tonight..... I met her after and she was very sweet about the play. Saidah Arrika Ekulona and I went out for a bite to eat after..... It was good to spend time with my old WELL buddy... Saidah and I have a lot of precious history with this play. It was good to have the one on one time with her.
Wed. 5/3: Had an audition for a small role in an upcoming Chris Rock film this morning. The casting director Vickie Thomas was wonderful.... auditions often are cold and impersonal things... but this one felt alive and human, because Vickie went out of her way to put me at ease. After the audition, I went immediately to the Longacre ..... soon after my arrival Lisa showed up with her adorable dog Django. He often comes to work with Lisa. Django is a valued company member, as is my understudy, Randy Danson’s dog, Beeper. Its great fun to have these well behaved pups around backstage..... and I always think people behave better with animals around. Django flatters me with visits to my dressing room....looking for treats for sure.... but I tell myself he also just wants to pop in to say hi while I put on my make-up. Had an extraordinary matinee.... such a warm audience, and again a slightly larger house. The second show was also very good..... attending tonight’s performance was my dear friends Steve and Azi’s daughter Hannah. Hannah is 16 and she came to the play with her high school’s playwrighting class. I have known and loved Hannah since she was a baby. I am amazed at how nervous I am about performing for her and her peers.... I want her to be proud of me. I will go visit her school in a couple of weeks and talk to this class about their experience of seeing WELL.
Thurs. 5/4: Had a quiet day running errands and visiting a good friend.... When I arrived at the theater the front of house display boxes had been updated, it was great to see some of our new press out there for the public to read. The show tonight was wonderful ... a lively house again, a bit larger, but still the attendance is not what we want and need it to be. After the play, met an old friend for dinner and once again had the worried discussion about what plays sell on Broadway and why..... our critical success with WELL is undeniable, but where are the people???
Fri. 5/5: Another truly responsive house... oh what a joy this play is to do!....and after saw Leigh briefly.... a huge relief to see her again... she had been in California for 10 days workshopping a new play, and I missed her .....After the show, myself, John Hoffman, Christina Kirk, and her husband John, sister Laura and partner Kate went to the Paramount for drinks and a meal. A really fun time with a great group of people....so warm and funny. I have become a night person again..... staying up late and rising late is the norm now.
Sat. 5/6: Wonderful matinee today... the audiences have continued to be incredibly open and warm all week..... between shows ate a quick bite with Lisa, John Hoffman, and their sweet friend Brian, who is visiting from LA. Had a nap..... second show had a large house for an audience that was simply incredible...... playing the play tonight was like feasting with 500 best friends. After the show, the back alley was choked with people.... so many well wishers.... first of all the brilliant actor Peter Riegert greeted me with a hug, and copy of a DVD of the independent film that he wrote, directed and starred in called King of the Corner.... I had played a tiny part in it. I was so happy for the gift of his presence there. Next I was able to say an all together too brief hello to Phil Wolf and his fiancee Andrea in visiting from Florida. Phil is the father of my niece-in-law Cathy Anderson from Lawrence Kansas. Also there was Patricia Wetting and her husband Ken Olin ....they were so enthusiastic about the play. My sister Sue’s friend Cass was there from Richmond, Virginia, so wonderful to see her, and finally Zak Orth..... Zak and I went out for a quick meal.... was good to catch up with him... Zak is a marvelous actor that I had the privilege of working with this past summer at Steppenwolf Theater Co. in Chicago.
Sun. 5/7: Had our usual company brunch this morning .... ended the week with a very solid matinee.... after had a bite to eat with Lisa, Christina and John, John Hoffman and 3 wonderful friends of John’s from LA, Ralph, Joe and Brian..... wonderful relaxed conversation over food at Joe Allen’s, and then John H., his LA pals and I attended an evening performance of Lieutenant of Inishmore.
Mon. 5/8: Day Off. This morning received a call from Liz McCaan saying that the show would close this coming Sunday. Liz said "Jayne we have been a triumph in every way except financially..... we just can’t stay open with the size of houses that we are having." It was hard to breathe..... Liz and I continued to chat for a few minutes about the current climate of Broadway, and what sells and what doesn’t, but the whole time we were chatting I kept thinking ... " my God she has to make all of these phone calls to deliver this news ... what a horrible job" ..... I hung up from Liz and immediately called Leigh... no answer.... called Lisa..... we chatted briefly.... set up a date to meet later in the day.....Deep deep sadness. This experience feels like we have been soaring artistically despite small houses.... soaring..... and instead of being able to land gently, we have been shot down mid flight. Such a hard blow, a blow dealt by a bottom line that is a hard reality in commercial theater. Later in the day I met Leigh and Lisa for a drink... the beginning of processing what we need to do in order to move into our final week ready to perform in a very present and centered way. These last 8 performances will be a gift to treasure. There is poignancy in closing on Mother’s Day. I say now to any who are reading this, please come and see our play this week if you haven’t.... if you have seen us, please tell any who may care to come, that they need to do it now. We have one more proud week at the Longacre which we will perform with gratitude and love. I look forward to it with the same deep joy and pride I have always felt in performing WELL.
4/25: Had a radio interview taping with Lisa Carlin of CBS radio today at the theater prior to the show.... Lisa had seen WELL a few days before and was so captured by the play... she asked interesting questions about my process in creating the role... and then she had a separate interview with Lisa Kron as well..... I felt so happy to be back at the theater after some restful time off. The show tonight felt crisp and clear....very small house however.... our company is baffled about small attendance given our rave response from the critics. After the show this evening many of us from the acting company had a pow wow at a local watering hole tossing thoughts and ideas around about what info we think the public needs to be receiving in order to generate ticket sales.... word of mouth is growing, but slowly ..... the reality of being in competition with other plays on Broadway who have known stars is hitting us. The challenges we are facing are daunting... but not insurmountable we are convinced. Our ticket sales reflect quite a stark statement about how, as a society, we are more influenced by advertising and popular culture, than we are by what critics and people who have seen the show have to say about what is being offered.
4/26: This morning I had a very interesting interview with a reporter from the industry newspaper BACKSTAGE ... the topic for the article is Plus Sized Women in Show Business..... I had quite a lot to say on the topic! I have a bee in my bonnet about ALL of the stereotyping and marginalization done in the industry ... not just regarding women of size, but for minority actors, women over 40, women directors and writers etc. It's a direct reflection of the biases that exist all throughout our culture, and always bear discussion and thought I feel. I welcomed the opportunity to "weigh in" on the topic. Had two shows today for small houses ....again so rapt and attentive in their response to the play. After the evening performance an actor who I had known from years ago at a theater in Detroit showed up at the stage door, and we went out for a drink and caught up on the people we knew back in the 80's. Oh my, the many chapters of my life on the road....
4/27: Had a late lunch with my dear friend Janna.... then went to the theater early to catch up on some correspondence.... had a wonderful solid show tonight for a larger house... and after John Dias (one of our producers and dramaturg) came backstage.. he had been out of town and was recently back.... soooo good to see him... He and Lisa and I went out for a drink after the show and once again talked through theories about what dictates audiences’ choices to buy tickets for theater offerings on Broadway. Its so apparent that what we are doing at the Longacre is so innovative and beautiful...... and so hard to describe in marketable terms... how can one describe art and human experience as product?
4/28: Quiet day of rest.... then.....A very solid show for a nice sized house!... Wonderful diverse audience.... we can tell the demographic of the audience is diverse when the multiple levels of the play are received completely. So satisfying to know that all of the notes being hit are being heard by the collective. It's thrilling.
4/29: Woke up this morning to a phone call from a friend saying that I should look in today’s NY Times Metro/Arts Section..... I went online and read an article written by Charles Isherwood in the Critics Notebook that took my breath away. An extremely eloquent piece on WELL, and my performance as Ann Kron. It was stunning in its thoughtfulness. This was an enormous gift for us. It also tells me that although our sales have been slow ...Liz McCaan’s instincts, belief in the play, and determination to keep us open.... is not in vain... that as Ann Kron says....in fact, what we are doing is totally worthy of our time, love, and dedication. I arrive at the theater, and the affirmation of this is in the air.... the entire company is light in spirit, and the shows are good today as always, and the audiences are larger.... and life in the Longacre is good. The shared discipline of our company is, as always, magnificent. We all feel very proud.
4/30: This Sunday’s company brunch is a Japanese theme.... I bring sushi to the table and there are many other treats from Asian cuisine there... we all have a little nosh prior to the performance.... then have our final show of the week for a very nice sized house. After the show John Hoffman and I go out for what ends up being a 3 1/2 hour dinner.... lots of shared laughs, and the discovery of the decadent thrill of asparagus fritti. A great ending to a very interesting week.
5/1: Day off ... you know..... the usual. Oh yes!..... also had a late night telephone conversation with Ann and Walter Kron.... was lovely to speak with them as always... of course I called at midnight, because they tend to stay up until dawn.... they had just finished having dinner and were happy to share news about WELL.
4/18: I went to a commercial audition this afternoon, and as always felt like I was just one of many of the same "type" swimming round in a huge talent pool, hoping that I had the right "look" to entice unknown clients to pick me for their advertising. Such a crap shoot. Had a light meal and then to the theater to get ready for the beginning of our work week. It felt very good to get back to the Longacre feeling rested from a day off, and was happy to see my colleagues once again. The show felt very solid tonight, and after had a get together with old friends who had attended our performance.
4/19: A solid two show day, ending with the delight of seeing three women who I had gone to High School with in Topeka, Kansas. They were so happy to have seen the play, and it was great playing catch up with one another’s lives over the past 35 years. My classmate Joan also brought her college-aged daughter Amanda.... a lovely young woman studying in Lawrence at Kansas University. It was her first time in NYC, and first Broadway show. It really threw me back to my first arriving in NY, when I saw Mornings at Seven...... the entire production was just wonderful, the great Nancy Marchand, Maureen O'Sullivan, and Teresa Wright all splendid.... but I remember being absolutely transfixed by Elizabeth Wilson’s performance. She was totally heartbreaking and funny and just so superb. It was a beautiful introduction on Broadway. AND it was produced by Liz McCaan..... little did I think that I would one day be in a play produced by Liz myself! A few years after I saw Mornings at Seven, I was fortunate enough to take a few acting classes taught by Elizabeth Wilson.... it was illuminating to sit in the same room with her and hear her describe her process in developing a role. She has lived a life of passionate dedication to acting. Completely inspirational.
4/20: When we all arrived at the theater tonight it was announced by Susie Cordon our Production Stage Manager ... that for the remainder of the week we would be making a pitch to the audiences at the end of the show for Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS. This incredible organization provides care, support and much needed assistance for people living with HIV/AIDS ...... Theater communities all over the country unite in collecting funds for this cause.... and every year Broadway does the same..... John Hoffman was selected by us to be our official spokesperson and at the end of each performance for the remainder of the week.... he made an eloquent plea for the audience to open their hearts and pockets and give generously..... two of us from the company manned the exit doors of the theater with buckets to collect ..... tonight I got to receive the dollars flowing from people’s pockets... what a thrill....So many people all at once saying how much they loved the show, and giving so effortlessly to such a worthy cause. It was a privilege to participate. After when I went back to my dressing room I had the added thrill of meeting James Earl Jones who had been to see the show tonight. He was very gracious, and I was very speechless. I think I just grinned a great deal. Heavens shyness strikes at the most inopportune times!
4/21: Had a quiet day..... then went to the theater for what ended up being a solid performance... and home after and early to bed.
4/22: Matinee... nice crowd... good show.... a long lost friend showing up at stage door.... had a happy reunion and quick bite to eat with her. Back to my dressing room for a between show nap.... Tonight’s show was very good.... EXCEPT for a cell phone going off at the most critical point in the ending..... put a damper on the final moments of the play....GRRRRRRRRR..... I don't understand why people leave cell phones on even after the VERY CLEAR “turn off your cell phone please” message at the top of the evening! Life in a high tech world. After the show had my sweet cousin Dawny and her two children visit my dressing room. They had come from California and Rhode Island .... it was wonderful to see them.
4/23: The work day started with our delicious company brunch..... I brought creamed herring and Finn Crisp..... had a really nice fun show to round out the week.... then got to collect the money out in the lobby for BC/EFA ..... once again people gave with their hearts.... what a nice way to end the week!
4/24: Day Off..... the usual... errands, and a commercial audition....
4/11: Today started by being picked up at 8:45 am and taken downtown for a live interview with Joan Hamburg on WOR radio. Joan was warm and charming.... so very enthusiastic and supportive of our production. Her interest in the play and insightful questions put me at ease... it was a pleasure being interviewed by her. After my session in the WOR studio I met my sisters and cousin in the West Village for lunch. Then we went to the NY Public Library to explore there. I went to the theater early to do some correspondence. After I had gotten into costume and make-up a brief company meeting was called onstage .... Liz McCaan our lead producer was there to talk to us about our current status in the run..... she said that there had not been the hoped for big bump in sales after our substantially fine reviews.... in the light of that we were now in the position of holding on until the steadily building word of mouth about the show catches on. This is a week where houses are naturally light due to the holidays, but the calls to the box office for advance sales are growing.... her belief in the production and in the importance of producing new American plays on Broadway is fierce and inspiring. We as a company all share in her belief, that although we have no stars to sell the show... that the strength of the play, and the excellence of the production will sell itself. We went into this new week excited and proud to be sharing WELL with new audiences. Had a very nice house tonight, and the play played so well. After the show met John Guare, and he was very enthusiastic and so gracious....My respect for him is so deep, it was a thrill to speak with him. Went out after the performance with my family and had a lite meal. My sisters are so proud and supportive.... they have followed my life in the theater since I was a kid. They are very happy for me. I am deeply grateful for their being there for me through the long haul.
4/12: This morning went to a costume fitting for a TV shoot I am doing tomorrow. Then went to the theater for our two show day. Due to the holiday the houses were, not surprisingly, light... but oh so responsive. Two very solid shows. After went to a Seder at Lisa Kron’s home.... the meal was wonderful, and I found the rituals of the evening so beautiful.
4/13: This morning rose early to set my hair and get ready for a day’s shoot on the set for the TV show CONVICTION. Got to Kaufman/Astoria Studios by 9:30 for a 10:00 call..... was sent to hair and make-up and then was called to the set for a rehearsal for my first scene. I was playing the role of a tough no nonsense judge. The day rolled on smoothly ...shooting two scenes. Everyone on the set was relaxed and congenial. The scenes I had were comedic and fun to do. Finished there at about 4:00 and went to the theater early to have a meal and short nap before the evening performance. Had a wonderful show for a larger house tonight. Pure pleasure to perform.
4/14: I spent a leisurely day at home today.... Yesterday had been exhausting doing double duty with the shoot and the play, so was grateful for a full day of rest before going into the theater in the evening. We had a very good sized house tonight and the audience was sooooo responsive.... the show sailed by ... we were skating and surfing on the audiences laughter. What fun! I had two very dear friends, Charles Nolte and Terry Kilburn from Minneapolis attending tonight. It was so wonderful to see them after. We went out for drinks, and caught up a bit on our lives. They were so pleased by the show. They clearly had deep respect for the play, and all of the performances. I have known both Charles and Terry since I was a kid in acting school... Terry hired me for my first Equity job at Meadow Brook Theater back in the mid 70's, and I acted in many plays directed by both of them in the 80's. They have been both mentors, and loyal friends for these many years, and are so happy to see me playing on Broadway. They both had their own notable Broadway careers in the 1950's.... Charles originating the title role of BILLY BUDD, and also appearing in over 700 performances of the original CAINE MUTINY COURT MARTIAL, and Terry having replaced Eli Wallach in TEAHOUSE OF THE AUGUST MOON, and played Marchbanks opposite Olivia de Havilland in CANDIDA. Also joining us was John Dias, WELL’s dramaturg and producer. We had a long discussion about Broadway then and now. All of us shared concern about what it will take for Broadway to remain a viable place for new American straight plays to survive, and flourish.
4/15: Had two terrific shows today..... nice sizable houses for both...wonderful response from the audience. Lots of people waiting for autographs and wanting to say thank you for the experience they had in the theater.... one man said that in his 40 years of attending theater on Broadway, he has never seen anything he liked better than WELL. I had friends from Boston seeing the evening performance.... went out after with them.... a lovely time.
4/16: Sunday Brunch at the theater ..... the theme of this brunch was the Oy Boy Easter/Passover extravaganza.... ham and gefilte fish.... matzo brie and easter eggs hidden round the theater. The company camaraderie is just delightful.... cast and crew alike all enjoy and appreciate one another. We had a very nice matinee..... went home early to rest.
4/17: Day Off..... lunch with friends ... errands.... dinner with friends.....home early to answer emails... and early to bed.
4/4: I had a leisurely relaxed day at home, the first in a very long time, and as a result arrived at the Longacre for our first show of the week feeling rested. I always arrive at the theater early, in part because I have an early call time, but also because I love to be in the building for a while before I get into costume and make up. I use the extra time to say hello to the crew and stage managers, and to write cards to people who have been kind enough to correspond about the show. As the time passes and it gets closer to show time I hear people arriving for work.... slowly the backstage and dressing room area becomes this beehive of activity... buzzing with voices and the sounds of our wardrobe people carrying costumes up and down stairs, the stage being vacuumed, and actors greeting each other. By the time my half hour is called, the Longacre is fully alive with our entire company preparing for the performance. We had a small house tonight but a very good show. Afterward, Edward Albee came backstage. I felt completely shy meeting him..... after a lifetime of holding his plays in reverence, I couldn't believe I was standing face to face with the man who wrote Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolfe, A Delicate Balance, The Goat, and Three Tall Women. He was very kind about the play and my work. I could barely summon a thank you....totally shy.
4/5: Two shows today.... again small houses....the matinee very quiet. After the first show, I went out to have a bite to eat.....I was sitting at a table waiting for my order, and ruminating about the subdued response of the audience that afternoon..... three older women approached my table, and said they had seen the show and had had such a wonderful time...they also said it was the most thought provoking thing they had seen in the theater in a very long time... that they would be thinking about the play for weeks to come.... one woman mentioned that she has suffered chronic illness for the past 9 years, and thanked me profusely for her experience. They were so moved and so enthusiastic ..... a good reminder that, simply because an audience is quiet, doesn't mean they aren't getting it.... quite the contrary.... they are simply listening. The second show was much the same.... but this time I didn't question the enjoyment of the people attending.... Actors know if we are losing the audience during the course of an evening.... that is indicated by coughs, rustling programs, and restless noise... this is not what's happening.... the house is quiet and absorbed.... taking it in.
4/6: Today visited my friends at True Love Productions.... just popped in to touch base with them .... of course they had been present at opening night, but I hadn't had any time to really chat about the play. They are feeling very good about the production. I admire their energy and drive to produce Theater. It takes guts and a lot of hard work to be producers who take risks on innovative works like ours. I also dropped by the Liz McCaan office to say hello. This office is another beehive of activity. So many hard working people collectively pulling for WELL. I am humbled and grateful for their faith and tenacity. Had another good show tonight... after went out with the very fine playwright Bruce Norris. I had acted in a world premiere of Bruce's play The Pain and the Itch at Steppenwolf Theater Co this past summer. He and I had a long chat about the challenges of producing a new play in New York, particularly on Broadway, particularly with no stars .... It takes nerves of steel and faith in the play, and faith that audiences build over time... and ultimately it also takes the love of a good fight I think. I keep thinking of the women who I spoke to after the Wed. matinee.... I know they are talking to their friends about WELL right now, and their friends will want to see it too.
4/7: Had an interview with a very nice journalist for Backstage today.... for a column called Breakout... interesting to be thought of as a new kid on the block after over 3 decades in the profession.... immediately prior to the interview I slammed my finger in a door.... although the conversation I had with the reporter was interesting, I was a bit preoccupied with the throbbing pain and swelling of my index finger.....by the time I went onstage it looked like a concord grape. I took several ibuprofen, and forgot about it during the show.... amazing what adrenaline will do. After the play went out for dinner with fellow actor Christina Kirk and her husband John..... I spent the meal with my finger plunged into a glassful of ice..... despite the annoyance of the injury I had a great time with them.... lovely people.... and so talented.
4/8: Had two solid shows today... and after went out with Saidah Arrika Ekulona and a mutual friend of ours.... Saidah and I have both been on board with WELL for the past 4 and a half years..... she and I have seen the play through so many changes and so many stages of development. I just love her work onstage. She's a dynamic performer, and so versatile. Our friend Jeremy was thrilled to be seeing WELL in its current production... he really felt the changes made for Broadway have made the play better.
4/9: Started the day at the theater with a pot luck brunch..... today I took chicken and some mac and cheese..... a nice nosh and schmooz with the company prior to our final performance of the week. Leigh Silverman was there today to see the show. It was very good to see her back in the theater. I have missed her. We had a really fun and energized show today. After the play I went to Orzo with colleague John Hoffman.... we had a long leisurely meal and one of those fun rambling conversations that covered the gamut from biz talk to personal confidences. My friendship with John is new, but one I look forward to nurturing over time. We laughed so hard comparing notes about how our performance anxieties have materialized, evolved, and diminished in the course of the past two weeks. I told him I think it's very important to distinguish the difference between sweating out of sheer terror, as opposed to the dreaded flop sweat earned through painful awareness that one is failing at THAT VERY MOMENT IN FRONT OF 800 PEOPLE. We both agreed that we have been spared the indignity of flop sweat with WELL.
4/10: Day off..... my sisters Mary Lou and Sue arrived from Virginia and Kansas respectively... also my cousin Mara from California flew in. I spent a few hours with my sisters... strolling through Central park......beautiful Spring day... was good to see them. They will see the show tomorrow. Quiet evening at home.
3/28: This morning went to Saks to find something to wear for opening night March 30th..... hard to focus properly to shop, but found a jacket and top that will work with some pants I have. I feel desperate about wanting to look good on opening night. I also realize that really what I am desperate about is the upcoming preview performances for the critics.... crazy neurotic transference of anxiety routed into finding the PERFECT outfit. Then went to the theater for what I knew would be our last rehearsal. It was just a quiet meeting with Leigh and Lisa to discuss some notes, and then Lisa and I ran the lines in all of our scenes together. Leigh was very calm ....... it was clear (even though no one was actually saying it) that tonight was the first press night and her intention was to encourage us to stay focused and clear and to really connect well together as Mother and Daughter in the play... and as colleagues in life. It was totally bizarre knowing that after this intensive rehearsal period.... well really, after 4 and a half years of all of us working together on this play, today was the day that Leigh was letting go of the production ..... the show was ours now ... to be maintained by us and our Stage Manager. It was a quiet, deeply felt moment for all of us.... with no drama attached. Another milestone in the life of WELL. After rehearsal had a bit of food, and a small nap. Then got into costume and makeup for the preview performance..... energy was very high among the company before the show started.... but we all were tightly wrapped I think. I was also nervous because I knew Lisa's Mom, Ann Kron was seeing the performance tonight. I wanted to do well for her. The show started, and Lisa's first monologue went well .... I could hear it landing with the audience.... I breathed a huge sigh of relief for all of us.... the crowd was clearly there to get on the ride of the play.... the show unfolded strongly and clearly in a very muscular way... the whole night was charged and of a piece. By the time we hit curtain call the theater was vibrating with this amazing collective energy between us and the audience. Our Production Stage Manager Susie Cordon came up to tell us it had been a great show! After I got out of costume I went downstairs to say hello to Ann.... and bumped into John Dias, who said "congrats!" and then told me that there had been 70 critics in the house that night! I nearly fainted.... I can't print the expletive I muttered at the time.... but it was apt. God bless everyone for not telling us that we had that many journalists out there. Tonight was one big hoop we jumped through..... tomorrow two more performances for more press..... the pressure is intense.
3/29: Today woke early and went downtown to shop for a few opening night trinkets for co-workers... then to the Longacre to get ready for a 2:00 matinee. Had another very solid and focused show!..... out for food after and a short nap.... then onto the 7:00 performance, and again we hit it out of the park! I am so proud of us.... we really have our stride now in maintaining the play. At the end of the night there were hugs all around as we knew that the majority of the press had come and now we had nothing to do but play the play and wait for the reviews. Dear long time friends and colleagues from Baltimore were waiting for me at the stage door..... we went out for a quick bite and a drink....lovely to see them. Went home exhausted and obsessed about finding the right shoes to wear tomorrow night for the party.
3/30 OPENING NIGHT: My Official Broadway Debut....Again woke early and went downtown to finish shopping for opening night gifts and to find those damned shoes. Spent the majority of the day wandering in and out of stores in a preoccupied fog. Picked up gifts.... got cards .... got stuck at Macys jewelry counter for an hour trying to find earrings ..... finally get to the shoe dept with only 30 minutes to find the PERFECT pair.... Lord...ended up buying some black pumps that are ok. Schlepped shopping bags back to the theater to find a dozen varieties of bouquets from family and friends, and many cards and small gifts in my dressing room, all so beautiful, and overwhelming....can’t take it in.... In a rush I wrote cards and distributed my own gifts to people around the theater.... and then at 4:30 the company was called to the stage for final words from Leigh and Lisa thanking us for an incredible rehearsal and preview period, and letting us know that we are respected and loved. It was simply our job to give the play to the audience now. Into costume and make-up... my places call..... out onto the stage to "sleep" in the La-Z-Boy for half an hour as the audience comes in. I was grateful for the enforced time in the chair tonight as it gave me an opportunity to breathe and relax before the play started. Finally the cell phone announcement was made.... the audience quieted.... Lisa entered into the light... the ovation she received was like she was a rock star.....thrilling..... finally the crowd quieted again and the play began and played and played and played so well.... a dream audience, and they lifted us so high..... what pure pleasure and joy to perform this sophisticated wonder of a play. At curtain call flowers were presented to us all.... so beautiful..... and then a rush to the dressing room to get hair and make up done, and to get dressed for the party at the Hard Rock Cafe. I went to the party with my long time friend and fellow actor Bill Kux as my guest. What a pal..... he knew how to graciously take care of my nerves while appearing not to notice I was a basket case. The venue was packed when we got there... about 500 people....photographers taking pics of the cast, director, and other celebrities attending the party.... a few tv cameras with reporters wanting interviews.... I ran that gauntlet and then started schmoozing with ALOT of people. It was pretty overwhelming.... kind of like a wedding reception without the cake.... but managed to relax enough to talk to a lot of people that I was happy to see and met quite a few new folks too. At about midnight the party started to break up, and the cast and a few people from the producing office and friends and family went to a restaurant to wait for the Friday NY Times to hit the newsstands so we could read the review. Bill and I hung out there till about 2:00 am but I was so exhausted that I wasn’t able to hold out for the moment of truth..... so I said good night and got into a cab and went home to fall into bed.
3/31: I awoke to the sound of my answering machine picking up messages from friends saying congrats .... we know you don’t read reviews.... but The Times loves ya..... got up and groggily got coffee and checked my email to find correspondences saying congrats too..... the sense of relief and joy is lurking in the back of my brain, but I can’t quite take it all in. At about noon I receive a phone call from Liz McCaan saying, well....all sorts of nice things, and congrats! THIS made it real. I am exhausted and deeply happy...As I am getting dressed to go downtown to the theater I look into the bathroom mirror I see I am looking and feeling much like Annie Sullivan at the end of the famous breakfast scene in The Miracle Worker.... "well, the dining room is a mess but she folded her napkin". I get to the theater very early to make some sense out of the chaos in my dressing room. I now have time to read the cards attached to the gorgeous flowers, and to look at the lovely mementos and thoughtful cards from well wishers. So much support and love. Many of these come from people who I have known at various points in my career.... including flowers from my high school drama teacher and mentor. Finally I have a good cry. I get into costume and make-up and on we go for our first performance after opening..... no second night let down.... it was a good one.
4/1: Two show day..... two good ones.... people have read the reviews and are happy to be coming to see this innovative new play the papers are talking about. After the second show..... I go to a gathering of family and friends of Leigh’s.... so lovely to see her feted in grand style by so many who love her. Then home to bed and, two, count em two whole days off!
4/2: A blessed day off with good weather to boot! ... slept in and later in the afternoon I attended a luncheon with Lisa and her family.... I finally was able to spend a bit of quality time with Lisa’s Mom, Ann. Ann is a wonder.... Ann and Walter Kron have been in NY this entire week to see their daughter’s play premier on Broadway. They have made the long trek here from Lansing, Michigan and have been thrust into the whirlwind of this week.... and I must say, they have borne up under the pressure with such grace and good humor. In my years of having the privilege of representing Ann on stage in WELL, Ann has been nothing but a good friend to me. She is always supportive and completely proud of the play. I am so grateful to know her.... her trust means more than I can say. Ann had for the past two years, without my knowledge, been
building a miniature replica of her living room, complete with Lay-Z-Boy ...... she presented me with this marvel of love and craftsmanship on opening night. It is the coolest gift imaginable. Well the only gift cooler is her friendship.
4/3: Another day off. Spent the day returning phone calls and emails. Going to sleep in tomorrow just cuz I can......Then back to the Longacre for another week on Broadway.
3/21: Arrived at the theater today with the new ending learned and worked on it with Leigh and Lisa for an hour and a half.... then worked with the rest of the acting company for the rest of the day. Had a really solid and wonderful preview performance this evening. It was encouraging. The new ending is working pretty well now.... will just be a few more refinements then I think it will be in place. I received some beautiful roses prior to the performance tonight from a friend who has directed me in many plays in the past. Went out with him after the show. It was good to get feedback from him about the production. He had seen us Off-Broadway and thought the play had made the move to the Longacre beautifully.
3/22: Today we had two preview performances..... both houses were smallish and quiet. It was disconcerting to have such a sharp contrast in audience response. We could tell the play wasn't landing.....very difficult day.
3/23: More group rehearsals today.... intense calibrating of scenes to help scenes land more clearly and easily with audience. The delicacy of this play is apparent as we work to adjust performative tone to find what tells the story best. The smallest changes make enormous differences.
This is something Leigh Silverman has understood so deeply in all the years of directing this piece. To my way of thinking she is a genius in her sensitivity and approach to working on this play. She understands completely how to fix moments in the play without upsetting the delicate balance that keeps this unique play floating and moving. She also has extraordinary communication skills in talking to each of us as actors, ever respectful of our contribution to the process, and guiding us gently toward choices that are for the greater good of the play. She also has infinite patience and trust in process, which in turn supports us as a company to keep moving forward confidently. The preview performance tonight felt better....
3/24: This morning had a phone interview with a reporter from a show biz website... then went to the theater and taped an interview for NPR. It was wonderful to speak with Jeff Lunden of NPR, he clearly appreciated the play so deeply. His questions were insightful and substantive. We then had another rehearsal onstage with the entire company... very focused work on further calibrating scenes. When working with Leigh on this phase of rehearsal.... well, it’s like watching a master mechanic tune up a Rolls Royce. Her delicacy of handling and respect for the machine of this play is awesome. The afternoon ended with inspiring and unifying words from Leigh about the strength of this play being it's huge heart, and how essential it was for us to keep our focus on that.... to relax, and trust, and to move forward with confidence in all the hard work that has gone before. The preview performance tonight was fabulous! Superb audience response. It was truly fun to play the play.... AND the play played us! I had a friend who had seen us a week earlier see the show again tonight... she was so impressed with our growth.
3/25: Two performances today.... the matinee went well ... was able to hang onto most of the notes I had received from Leigh. I felt relaxed enough to actually eat out between shows, and then back to the theater for our evening performance. We ended the week with a solid performance..... and went home very tired.
3/26: Day off... laundry... rest.... dinner with friends.
3/27: Began the day working with Leigh and Lisa running some of our scenes...... working with Lisa on stage is like dancing with a really, really good partner... we have such a long history together in this play, we are able to work together without effort. The trust is implicit, and the mutual respect is deep. It’s a privilege to share the stage with her. I quite frankly think she’s a genius. Next, a light rehearsal with entire company just touching on small bits and pieces..... This evening we had a wonderful preview... the audience was very responsive, and the show was great fun to play! We are moving toward our opening on Thursday the 30th with the production in really good shape. The ending is working and all’s right with the world!
3/14: Started the day off taping a press interview with Lisa that will be run in hotels around the city. It should be a great way to introduce WELL to tourists who are looking for a Broadway show to attend. As always, finding ways to describe the play in brief sound bites is a challenge. The play is complicated in form and plot, so trying to describe it in those terms is just confusing .... best to find the adjectives that tell the truth about the audiences experience of seeing the show.... funny, heartwarming, exciting, unique, moving, wild, fun! Went directly to the theater after the interview for rehearsal. Leigh gave us notes, and we also received new pages for two scenes that had received considerable cuts. Rehearsed those scenes on our feet until we all felt comfortable with the changes, and then broke for dinner. Had our 5th preview in the evening, and felt pretty good about it. I was nervous about the cuts, because they involved a couple of new lines for me, but they worked well..... they felt pretty seamless... the audience had a good time. After the show Leigh, Lisa and John had a feverish writing meeting over the end of the play.... I hung around until they were done to receive the changes so I could work on them before rehearsal tomorrow. The changes involved a bit of cutting and some new language for me.... an entire new exit speech for me. Went home feeling in a panic about learning it for tomorrow.
3/15: Woke early, and tried to learn the new words. Arrived at the theater early and worked alone for an hour with Leigh in my dressing room on the new material. Then moved down onstage to work the ending with Lisa.....there were a lot of critical technical things that needed to be worked onstage too..... these technical concerns ended up taking more time than expected so our actual rehearsal time onstage with the ending was cut short.... finally moved back up to Lisa’s dressing room to work it for another 15 minutes before breaking for dinner. Yikes.... not enough time! Continued trying to will the words into my old brain over my dinner break, and then ended up using the trick of planting the new page with script changes in the wastebasket onstage next to my chair where I spend the lion’s share of my time during the play. There are a few moments in the play where I have a chance to glance at the page prior to my having to play the scene. This script in the wastepaper basket trick has been a backup I have used many times during the various productions of the play .....the ending has always remained in flux and changes have been run of the mill..... HOWEVER.... it's difficult to hang onto the new words when I have so many other versions of the ending still stored in my memory bank. The show went well tonight..... and miraculously we got through the ending without much of a hitch. I don't think the audience had a clue there were two actresses up there who were ending the play with new words.
3/16: First hour and half of rehearsal spent onstage with Leigh, Lisa, and John on the ending.... it now feels more confident than last night certainly..... next, rehearsed with the rest of the company doing small cleaning on other scenes. Dinner Break..... then onstage for Preview #7 .... It went well. Again audience reception good. Got home after the show and received email from Lisa saying there were 4 new lines for ..... you guessed it... the ending.
3/17: The day started with a 10:00 am phone interview with an entertainment writer from my home town newspaper. It was fun to chat with him about my teen years doing community theater and high school plays in Topeka, Kansas. All of those experiences are precious memories of a time when my desire to act was very passionate, and each experience was so fresh and astounding to me. Then off to the Longacre for more rehearsal..... today was a quiet focused rehearsal day onstage for all of us. Leigh was able to accomplish a lot of polishing on scene work....Had a leisurely dinner break.... Then the evening performance...... it felt very good. I had 9 friends see the show tonight, and we went out after. It was great to hear how the show sparks peoples’ imaginations, and resonates for them personally.
3/18: Two shows today..... The matinee audience was a little quiet, but enjoyed it a lot. Well, except for one woman.......since for me this play involves a lot of direct address to the audience, I have a chance to get to know the people sitting in the first few rows rather well. Very early on in the show today I looked out to the second row and there was a woman with her head thrown back, mouth wide open, taking a nap. The play had only just started, so I KNOW it wasn’t us that had knocked her out.... I'm guessing that it was too much St. Patrick’s day fun the day before that sent her into slumber.... at Broadway ticket prices that was one expensive nap! I hope she at least felt well-rested by the time she went home. We had a very good second show as well. A rollicking house that was vocally responsive.... much fun to perform. One of the interesting elements of performing in previews is that changes are ongoing... not only script changes but changes to the physical show as well.... just as the director keeps working and perfecting the show, designers keep tweaking and making changes as well, i.e. costume adjustments, and wigs etc. .... I have a unique experience in this play of already being onstage when the audience comes in.... because of this I don't have an opportunity to see my fellow actors in costume prior to the show starting each night. Almost every night since previews have begun actors have come on stage either wearing different costume pieces or wigs that I haven’t seen until that moment. Its terribly entertaining for me to see what hair do Christina Kirk is wearing as the character of Joy, or what new shirt and vest combo John Hoffman is sporting.... a couple of nights ago Daniel Breaker appeared in the role of Big Oscar wearing a great looking salt and pepper afro..... all just part of the ever changing canvas that creates the WELL aesthetic..... and it certainly keeps the show fresh for me as well!
3/19: The day started with a brunch at the theater with cast and crew...everyone brought delicious food... well ok, I copped out and brought coleslaw from Zabbars...but we had a nice schmooze and nosh to start our last day of the week. Two more previews under our belt today, and both of them very very good. Oh and by the way.....Leigh told me to expect more script changes on the ending tomorrow.
3/20: Day off. Did laundry, ran errands, got script changes.... the usual. Plan on sleeping long and hard tonight.
3/7: Our second day of technical rehearsals began at 12:30.... first a brief writing meeting with John and Lisa, with a few small changes added....Then into costume and onto the stage to resume teching through the show....there still are major problems with mechanized parts of the set not working properly, so it was slow going. This play has many complex cues that involve sound, light, and set shifts happening simultaneously, so there is much stopping and starting to work out the timing on all of these cues that ultimately are critical to aiding story telling.....also, there are a myriad of quick changes for many of the actors that need to be meticulously worked out to ensure maximum speed. The crew members are ALL, to a person, experienced professionals and incredible at their jobs. They absorb a great deal of stress in having to learn the show in just a few days prior to audiences coming in. A lot of work was accomplished today, but still have much to do. Ended the day at 11:00 pm exhausted.
3/8: Today was another long day of tech.... The collective fatigue from the intensity of trying to build all these cues in a very short amount of time is apparent. There are major concerns about the safety of the actors and crew members with some of the shifts involving moving scenery pieces. Due to the seriousness of these concerns the day is very quiet and focused on problem solving with designers, crew and Leigh. We actors, move through the scenes quickly not focused on acting so much as just getting to the next tech cue to be worked through. Progress is made, but pressure to get things fixed and working properly is mounting.
3/9: Spent the afternoon running through the whole play without stopping. Most of the cues worked pretty well.... quick changes were made in time.... the set functioned with only a few glitches. Had a light meal at dinner break and napped for 20 minutes.... then rose to get into make-up and costume for our final dress rehearsal for an invited audience. There were about 300 people there. I felt nervous and jumpy about being in front of so many people having only had the afternoon’s run through under our belt, but the people who were attending the dress rehearsal were very vocal and warm and receptive. We made it through pretty well. The audience’s response was helpful and encouraging. One more hoop jumped through! Went home feeling a sense of relief from having gotten through it.
3/10: Our first Preview! The afternoon was spent working small scenes, and running certain cues for both acting and technical adjustments. Leigh gave us a few notes from last night’s dress rehearsal. I also received 3 small writing changes. Dinner break and short nap.... and then back out onstage for our first time in front of a paying audience. We had a nice sized house, and the response was warm .... but I had a night riddled with bumpy moments, and there were a few technical bumps as well. There was one huge moment when a set piece got stuck and Lisa and I were left onstage vamping for about 4 minutes (which felt like 4 years) until it was possible for the actor who had the next entrance to get on stage..... these are the moments audiences love in previews....for the actor it's not unlike being in a car crash.... time gets suspended in the most surreal way... adrenaline rushes and everything becomes about spontaneous problem solving.... superhuman feats happen. This can only happen in live theater.... once in a lifetime moments experienced with one particular audience.... While Lisa was desperately trying to fix the set I thought of an ad lib that got a huge laugh and applause and Lisa being the genius she is picked it up and ran with it. She is a master at improv thank God. I can’t think of a better person to be onstage with in a situation like this. I must say, after having had the grace of working together for 4 years on this play, the level of trust between us is a huge blessing. I can sum up the evening by saying we survived! The audience left happy.
3/11: Spent the afternoon again working notes from the previous night....The work was focused, a lot of things got cleaned up both technically and performatively. Had our second preview this evening... and it went very well. The notes worked during the day paid off, and the whole show was much more confident and solid tonight. Again a very wonderful warm audience response. Technically it was a smooth performance as well. I went out after the show with some of my fellow actors and relaxed before going home.
3/12: Two Preview Performances today..... the matinee at 3:00 was for a smaller house than we have had previously, so they were a bit more quiet, but still very responsive. It was a good solid show. Had a bit of food after and a quick nap, and then did a 7:00 show that was just great. What a nice way to end the week. It feels like we are really on solid footing now with performing and with the tech elements as well. The audience buzz from our first preview week is very exciting. People are leaving the theater saying they loved it and want to come and see it a second time and bring their friends and family. This has always been our pattern with this play. The word of mouth is always so good. It has been gratifying since performances started to talk to the people who are kind enough to wait at the stage door to say hello and thank you. I love knowing how this play impacts people.
3/13: Day Off! Laundry, errands, emails, phone calls. Received a call from Leigh today just letting me know that in the process of hearing the show played in front of audiences, sections of the play that weren't quite landing were being rethought... there were going to be more script changes tomorrow, and to be prepared.... Lordy! What a journey.... what a ride!
2/28: Daniel Breaker was out sick today with the flu so his understudy, Coleman, stood in for him in rehearsal. He did a magnificent job. All of our understudies are wonderful. They are present every day notating staging and changes as they happen. They have the daunting task of learning the play without the benefit of being on their feet rehearsing. Only after we open do they have the opportunity to rehearse onstage themselves. Meanwhile they still need to be prepared to go on if one of us is unable to perform. They have my deep admiration. It's a very difficult job that requires nerves of steel. We ran the back half of the play most of the day, with a special focus at the end of the day on the last 8 pages of the play with Lisa and I.
3/1: Daniel was back in rehearsal today feeling much better, but John Hoffman is feeling poorly with a cold. We are all washing our hands like mad, popping vitamin C and Airborne tablets trying to stave off a company epidemic. Staying healthy is critical as we move toward our final days in the rehearsal room. We had a very solid run through of the play for a handful of guests. It was fairly relaxed, and I felt much more on top of my game than the last run we had.
3/2: Based on Leigh’s notes from our run through yesterday we worked and cleaned the interior scenes of the play.... lots of polishing and clarifying moments so that they land solidly. Toward the end of the day the Ensemble was dismissed, and Leigh and Lisa and I went back to the table and read through the ending. A few snips and cuts were made... then re-read it a few more times. It was a relaxed day, with much productive detail work.
3/3: Started the day working the ending with Lisa and Leigh.... then the entire company assembled to have a run through for about 25 guests. It was a sizable audience for our rehearsal space. It was fun to have such a large number of people there.... producers, crew, designers, and a few invited guests who had never seen the play. The response was warm and vocal, so it made playing the play a pleasure. I felt a new energy rush in for all of us which has to do with performance rhythm. It felt like a precursor of things to come when we move into previews and start learning about the play from audience response. Leigh was very happy about the way the run went. I left rehearsal feeling good, knowing that the whole play is now really basically in place in a very solid moment to moment way.
3/4: Worked the ending again.... some big cuts and changes ..... also received some smaller cuts throughout the play, trimming extraneous moments. Then our final run through in the rehearsal room. It went well in a quiet way. After it was over Leigh said that the play had now outgrown the rehearsal space and it was time for us to move into the theater. We had pizza to celebrate our last day in that space, and Susie Cordon briefed us about the procedure of moving into the theater for the next big phase of our journey to production. We all left excited about seeing one another after our day off. The next time we met it would be at the Longacre Theater.
3/5: Day Off. Did laundry, and saw friends for dinner. Started watching the Oscars but couldn't stay awake for them. Too tired. Sleep took precedence over Hollywood.
3/6: Hooray! Our first day at the Longacre. The day started at 12:30.....reported to the theater, signed in, introduced myself to the door man backstage, and got my dressing room key. Moved my make-up and personal things into my little dressing room, and I was delighted to find a small gift package from Leigh welcoming me there.... a beautiful photograph, a porcelain dish in which to place jewelry, a candle...... and also waiting for me a huge poster of Heath Ledger on the back of the door from Lisa and Leigh and Leigh’s wonderful assistant Katherine. It made me howl with laughter. This little stunt was inspired by the fact that I just happened to sigh his name one day in rehearsal while looking at his photo in the paper. Who doesn’t? So now, I am living with an enormous photo of Heath overseeing my pre-show preparations. Thanks girls! Gawd....I haven't had a celebrity poster since I was 13 and in love with George Harrison. We all were so excited to actually be in the theater..... we all met onstage and were introduced to the crew who will be moving set pieces, props, attending to wigs, running sound and follow spot and helping with quick changes. Next, we got into costume for the top of the play, and our first technical rehearsal commenced: moving slowly through the play, cue by cue, while Leigh coordinates with the designers and crew how best to time all the myriad technical elements which make the play run. This is an awesome and arduous period in rehearsal. So many new things to assimilate and work out. The set and costumes look beautiful, but at this point they are all things to get accustomed to. There was a technical problem with a major moving component of the set, which we simply had to ignore for the day until it could be addressed by the carpenters tomorrow morning. We worked until 5:30, broke for dinner, then came back at 7:00 and worked until 11:30. We made it through the first third of the play... sort of.... miles to go.... I was exhausted by the end of the day. Fell into bed immediately when I got home.
2/21: Started the day off today working the first group scenes in the play. The chorus of 4 actors who play multiple roles in the play are a deeply creative group of artists. They are Christina Kirk, Daniel Breaker, Saidah Arrika Ekulona, and John Hoffman. After the intensity of yesterday’s rehearsal, today’s work is bursting with high energy and a lot of creative silliness... some of the discoveries made by the chorus in joking around are now incorporated into the show. Leigh is masterful in guiding us all toward the multiple realities played in the work, while at the same time allowing each actor to bring their own imaginative imprint to their roles. It's a rich mix of personalities in the room. Truly delightful.
2/22: Worked on the center of the play today... without the beginning or the ending it felt odd and incomplete.... As always however, the running, discussing, then re-running of scenes bore not only fresh nuances in the scenes, but also deeper confidence in ownership of roles. After rehearsal today there was a lovely birthday celebration in honor of our Production Stage Manager Susie Cordon. Beth Blitzer from the Producing office had made a beautiful cheese cake and had the table decked with red table cloth and red stars and glitter.... candies and cards and well wishes. Our Stage Management team is absolutely awesome by the way....Susie Cordon, and Allison Sommers. A nice ending to a good day.
2/23: The day began with an intense hour and a half's work with Leigh and Lisa on the end of the play.... a few more tweaks to the script were made....worked it again to try them out... so intense.... then when that part of the day was done, BLAM!.... the rest of the company came in and the room that had been so quiet with concentrated effort came alive with talking, joking, and laughter. We once again launched into the group scenes and finished the day energized. After rehearsal, Leigh and Lisa and I taped an interview for the magazine “The Dramatist.” The topic was writing and the collaborative process. It was very interesting to listen to Leigh and Lisa recap the years of collaboration they have had together on the play, lots of talk about how they discovered the structure and form of the play.... as I listened to them talk I was reminded how incredibly lucky I have felt for so long to be in the company of such brilliant women of the Theater. What Lisa has created in this play is so innovative, and exciting. I often can’t see the forest for the trees in our detailed picking through the roots of the play.... I must NEVER take for granted the years of work put into this piece. I put in my two cents worth about what the collaboration has been like for me from a performer’ point of view. I don't think I will ever be able to articulate it completely though. So much of what happens to me when working on this play is intuitive and mysterious. I am satisfied to let it remain so.
2/24: Started with hour and a half of work with Leigh and Lisa.. more intense work on end of play.... breakthroughs made in a big way, very exciting... more tweaks and cuts to the writing as well. Then producers, designers and assistants arrived and we did our first complete run-through of the play with our creative and producing team watching. Leigh felt it went pretty well..... I however struggled throughout most of it... never feeling like I was able to get under the role, or on top of the scenes. I found myself being easily thrown by things. This is often my experience in these rehearsal run-through situations. Frustrating, and humbling. It will never be this hard again, I remind myself. Afterward, Liz McCaan offered supportive and encouraging words to the entire company about what great shape she thought we were in. She very graciously thanked us all for our hard work thus far. She brings gravity to the import of our work with her respectful words.
2/25: Worked with Leigh and Lisa on the top of the play for an hour... then were joined by rest of ensemble to work on cleaning up some scenes from the middle of the script..... John Hoffman had us in tears of laughter by the end of the day with a running commentary on his process in finding moments in a scene that he was having trouble with. The perfect antidote to a long hard week of work!
2/26: Day off.... I worked on an audition for a film .... and was delighted finding in the NY Times today all the articles about the upcoming Spring Season on Broadway. A very lovely pic for WELL and great mentions of the play, also a wonderful interview and picture of Leigh talking about what it is to be directing for a Broadway Production. It's a great feeling to have the press. Later in the day saw the film TransAmerica...was very moved and inspired by Felicity Huffman’s performance.
2/27: Started the day with the film audition... then had an hour and a half to kill before rehearsal, so went to another of my Manhattan offices, Starbucks. Looked at my script over a cappuccino and tried not to alienate any nearby coffee drinkers with my work. Rehearsal day started with the entire company working group scenes for 2 hours, then once again Leigh, Lisa, and I had another 2 and a half hour session with the final scene of the play. I ended the day working solo, running lines with Marti McIntosh our production assistant. Marti is a quiet and very centered presence in the rehearsal room, an anchor.... she's totally on top of whatever task she is doing, and always makes us feel incredibly taken care of.
2/14: Valentines Day.... I took in silly Barbie Valentines for the company with little candies, Leigh showed up bearing small heart shaped boxes of chocolates for all.... Treats all around. We continued staging through the play, and also reviewing what we had done thus far. In passing through the previously worked scenes, the performative complexity of this play started to surface. As always, it's a fascinating element of this play. It's delightful to see everyone discover ways to play multiple realities simultaneously. Humanity and intelligence is always needed to play comedy well, I think, and this company has that in spades. Leigh got a good chunk of the play staged on us today.
2/15: I always use my 45 minutes on the train in the morning to look at my script... today was no exception. I was engrossed in running lines, (silently mind you) but clearly must have been mouthing words, or making faces or something, as the man sitting next to me opted to get up and stand for the remainder of the trip. Oh dear.... Well, the work has to be done. The A-train just happens to be one of my offices. The rehearsal room was hot today... difficult to stay focused... much digression... a lot of breaking up and laughing on all of our parts. Actually the silliness was a lovely way to bond.... we're still a company getting to know one another, so it's good to laugh together. I'm realizing now, having worked on and performed this role for so long, that I can be "too comfortable" in the role.... it's a trap I need to be wary of. Feeling comfortable is now uncomfortable... I use the sensation as a signal to rethink what I am doing in certain sections of the play, and remember original impulses anew.
2/16: Yet more staging ... hit a section of the play that has had brilliant new re-writes. It's so exciting to feel a fresh surge of energy shot into the play..... We're now pushing toward the back third of the play. I have started to re-visit some of my old research on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome... also spoke to a friend who has had CFS for 17 years. It was important to be reminded of how completely crippling this illness can be. It's now informing my work in the play in a deeper way again.
2/17: Felt like I was drowning in the play today… the multiple layers and realities of the piece, while ultimately delightful to play and watch, are mind bending to work on. We've now staged thru page 50 ..... only 8 more fragile pages to go, and we will have the entire play on its feet ready to be worked for real.
2/18: We had a run thru of the first 50 pages today.... Beth from our producers office was there as well as Tom the wig designer and John our sound designer. It was daunting to run it all from the top, but when it was over Leigh felt we were in good shape for having had 10 really solid days of work. Leigh gave us great specific notes on the run through, and sent us off to a much needed day off.
2/19: Day Off! Did my laundry and looked at the last 8 pages of the play in preparation for Monday’s rehearsal. I also had dinner with friends... it felt good to have some relaxed social time.
2/20: Back in the rehearsal room.... today worked only with Leigh, Lisa, and John Dias (our dramaturge) on the last 8 pages. There has been a sizable re-write done. Lisa and I read through it a number of times and then Leigh put us on our feet helping us explore the new landscape of the ending. This led to more work around the table discussing the last 4 pages, and more changes took place. It was a very focused and intense 6 hours today. I left rehearsal with my head swimming and very tired. How amazing to know a play so well, but have it feel like a whole new ballgame again!
After months of anticipation, WELL has finally gone into rehearsals for a Broadway production. In the recent weeks leading up to this time, I've found the wait almost unbearable. I started working on the role of Ann Kron in this play 4 years ago....I've spent countless hours, days, and weeks participating in readings and developmental workshops as the play has changed and grown. A wonderful production Off Broadway in the Spring of 2004, and a very successful run of the play last winter in San Francisco, had us all hoping that this play could make it to the Great White Way. And now here we are! About a month ago, I was still pinching myself barely able to believe this was going to happen, even though I had participated in some promotional press events for this upcoming production. I guess it all really hit home the day I was told our marquee was up at the Longacre Theater. I immediately walked over there, and as I rounded the corner at Broadway and 48th St. and saw the title WELL so beautifully splashed across the marquee my heart leapt for joy. In my 32 years as a professional actress working in regional theater, and Off Broadway I had only known the thrill of entering a Broadway theater from the front entrance.... as an audience member. As I stood there and gazed at the Longacre proudly announcing WELL's arrival I realized.... this is my workplace now. I will enter through the stage door, and this will be my new professional home. It's a moving thing to debut on Broadway for anyone at any time in their career.... but for me, to be able to act on Broadway for the first time in such a gorgeous play and glorious role, that has been a labor of love over a very long time.... well I can't imagine a more fortunate actress than I.
Day one, Feb. 9th: Spirits are very high as the entire company for WELL met at our rehearsal space for an initial meeting..... Coffee and pastries consumed while designers, actors, marketing and advertising teams, stage management, director and producers all schmoozed and introduced ourselves to one another. A really inspiring presentation was given by Tony Walton of his set design for the play. It was so exciting to see the beautiful model for our set. Next the actors and director gathered round the table to have our first read through of the play. After all these years of working on this play, I still found it revelatory to hear it read by the very talented acting company. We all laughed a lot, had a great time reading the work, and the day ended on an upbeat note.
Day two: More work sitting around the table with the acting company and our director Leigh Silverman. We re-read the play slowly this time ....taking the time to stop and discuss elements of each scene. Leigh is a very democratic director, time is open for any and all questions about the play. I love this point in rehearsal ... it always feels luxurious to me to have the time to analyze and dissect a play. Lisa Kron, the playwright and central actor in the play is also very insightful and helpful in her approach to discussing the play. We all felt more informed and more hooked into the material by the end of the day.
Day three: The day began with just Lisa and I and Leigh staging the opening of the play for an hour. It felt great to get up on our feet and start to physicalize the piece again. Then the rest of the actors came in for the rest of the day as Leigh continued staging through the play. It was a very productive day.... got the first 15 pages on its feet.
Day four: The BIG snowstorm.... I left my apartment this morning to go to rehearsal and walked out into 2 and 3 foot drifts of snow ..... no one had shoveled anywhere... the streets were not plowed.... It took me a lot of huffing and puffing to get about a block from my home... and I thought my God surely rehearsal is cancelled! I called our stage manager, no answer.... I called Lisa... she wasn't sure..... I called Leigh.... no answer..... so finally I thought I should at least go back home and get a second pair of pants and socks so that when I got to rehearsal I'd have dry clothes to wear...... Finally I made it to the subway soaked to the knees and made the hour trek down to midtown... When I came up out of the subway at Penn Station I had to laugh..... of course in populated midtown the streets were at least passable and the sidewalks had small pathways shoveled .... I realized it was only my tiny neighborhood that felt paralyzed by the storm. We had another full day of staging in the rehearsal room, and moved forward another 10 pages in the play. The acting company is very large hearted and jovial... also tremendously creative. Great energy in the room.
Day five: Another day of staging....we jumped around in the script a bit to accommodate actors who had costume fittings. Again, much was accomplished though. Leigh is a meticulous and methodical director. She gives us ample repetitions to find many choices within scenes. It's a very generous way of working. Much of my time on stage is spent in a la-z-boy recliner.... the la-z-boy that has been purchased for the production is the one I am rehearsing with. It's deliciously, and dangerously comfortable. In one section of the play I have very little to say.... we repeated that section a lot today..... I found myself fighting not to drift off into an unwarranted nap! I realize I'm going to have to find ways to keep myself very alert and alive in that oh so luxurious chair. Oh well..... I can think of worse dilemmas.
Full Casting Announced
Joining the previously announced Lisa Kron and Jayne Houdyshell in WELL on Broadway will be Daniel Breaker, Saidah Arrika Ekulona, John Hoffman and Christina Kirk.
Daniel Breaker’s theatre credits include Fabulation at Playwrights Horizons; A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Silent Woman, The Rivals and The Tempest at The Shakespeare Theatre. Saidah Arrika Ekulona performed in Well at the Public Theater. Other off-Broadway credits include Fabulation at Playwrights Horizons, The Square (dir. Lisa Peterson), A Streetcar Named Desire at New York Theatre Workshop, Home, and Jeff Whitty’s The Plank Project. John Hoffman is best known on the stage for his play "Northern Lights" which became a made-for-cable film in which he starred with Diane Keaton. Also, John directed Lisa Kron's "101 Humiliating Stories" for a night at Lincoln Center and a run at The New York Theater Workshop. Christina Kirk has appeared in several critically acclaimed theater productions, including [sic]at the Soho Rep, Worldly Acts (Urban Empire), Stage Door (HERE), and David Auburn’s Fifth Planet (New York Stage and Film Workshop).
Official Press Release
Written By And Starring Lisa Kron
Directed by Leigh Silverman
Opens March 30 At The Longacre Theatre
Previews Begin March 10
WELL, the critically-acclaimed play written by Lisa Kron and directed by Leigh Silverman, will open on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre (220 West 48 Street) on March 30 2006. Previews will begin on March 10. Obie Award winners Lisa Kron and Jayne Houdyshell will reprise the roles they created at The Public Theater last year. WELL is produced byElizabeth I. McCann, Scott Rudin, Boyett Ostar, Roger Berlind and True Love Productions.
Tony Award winner Tony Walton (sets) and John Gromada (sound) will join Miranda Hoffman (costumes) and Tony Award winner Christopher Akerlind (lighting) who designed the original production.
In addition to Kron and Houdyshell, additional casting will be announced at a later date.
WELL opens with Lisa Kron's mother sitting on a La-Z-Boy recliner in the middle of the stage. As the play goes on to deal with Kron's personal experiences of healing, a comedic coup d’état breaks out. The actors critique the script, her memories conflict with her flashbacks, her mother interrupts with her own opinions, and Kron finds herself in danger of losing control. The result is a hilarious and brazen piece that questions our thoughts on the conventions of both theatre and wellness.
The New York Times hailed WELL as "something magical" and called it “wonderful” and a "deeply affecting play that has a warmth and accessibility that makes you want to recommend it to everyone.” The Associated Press says, “Lisa Kron’s hilarious, convention-breaking comedy is a nifty, highly personal look at the nature of theater itself.” Variety declares it a “perceptive, achingly funny play.”
WELL made its world premiere at the Public Theater in the spring of 2004, a production that was on the “Best of 2004” lists of The New York Times, The Associated Press, and The Star-Ledger. The production garnered Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, and Outer Critics Circle nominations and an OBIE award for Jayne Houdyshell’s heartfelt, yet humorous portrayal of Kron’s mother.
Lisa Kron (Playwright/Performer) has been writing and performing theater in New York and around the country since coming to New York from Michigan 22 years ago. Well premiered at the Public Theater in Spring 2004 and was named one of the ten best plays of the year by the New York Times, the Associated Press, the Newark Star Ledger, Backstage and the Advocate. Her solo play 2.5 Minute Ride premiered at La Jolla Playhouse in 1996 and in New York at the Public Theater in 1999. Other presenters include the Barbican Theatre in London, Baltimore Center Stage, A Contemporary Theatre in Seattle, American Repertory Theatre, Hartford Stage, and Trinity Repertory Company/Perishable Theater. 2.5 Minute Ride received an OBIE Award, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations, an L.A. Drama-Logue Award, and the GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Media Award for best Off-Broadway play and was named the best autobiographical show of 1999 by the New York Press. Kron’s other solo works include 101 Humiliating Stories(Drama Desk nomination), and Martha which she co-wrote with and for choreographer/performer Richard Move. Kron is also a founding member of the legendary OBIE and Bessie Award–winning theater company The Five Lesbian Brothers, whose most recent play Oedipus at Palm Springs premiered this summer at the New York Theatre Workshop with Leigh Silverman directing. She is the recipient of numerous awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Cal Arts/Alpert Award in Theater, an NEA/TCG Playwriting fellowship, and a Creative Capital Foundation Grant. As an actor, Kron has appeared Off Broadway in plays including Worth Street Theater’s acclaimed revival of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart; Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues; and Paul Rudnick’sThe Most Fabulous Story Ever Told. Kron’s plays and the plays of the Five Lesbian Brothers are published by T.C.G.
Jayne Houdyshell (Ann Kron) appeared in Well at The Public Theater, receiving a 2004 OBIE award for her performance as well as Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel and Outer Critics nominations. Other New York credits include Much Ado About Nothing at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Fighting Words at Playwrights Horizons, True Love at the Zipper Theatre and Attempts on Her Life at SoHo Rep. Regional credits include work at American Conservatory Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, MacCarter Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Wilma Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Missouri Repertory Theatre, Asolo Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Studio Arena, Geva Theatre, Meadow Brook Theatre and many others. Major roles include Linda Loman in Death of a Salesman, Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Big Mama in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet, Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest and the title role in Shirley Valentine. She won a 2005 Barrymore Award for The Clean House at the Wilma Theatre, and a 2005 Joseph Jefferson Award for The Pain and the Itch at Steppenwolf. TV and Film credits include appearances on Law and Order, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Law and Order: SVU, Third Watch, Garden State, Changing Lanes, Maid in Manhattan and Trust the Man.
DANIEL BREAKER (Jim, and others) is proud to be making his B’way debut. Recent productions include Dromio of Syracuse in Comedy of Errors at the Shakespeare Theatre (Helen Hayes nomination for Best Actor); The storyteller inCaucasian Chalk Circle at South Coast Rep; Ariel in The Tempest at The Shakespeare Theatre (Helen Hayes nomination for Best Supporting Actor); Passing Strange and Blue Door at the Sundance Institute; How to Act Around Cops at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and at the SoHo Theatre in London. New York productions include Lynn Nottage’s Fabulation at Playwrights Horizons and the title role in Pericles with the Red Bull Theatre at the Culture Project. Other productions include Lee Blessing’s Blackshop at Barrington Stage Co.; The Rivals, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Silent Woman at the Shakespeare Theatre; and an appearance on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Daniel is a graduate of The Julliard School, B.F.A.
SAIDAH ARRIKA EKULONA. (Kay, and others) Broadway debut. Originated her roles at The Public Theater, A.C.T. and Sundance. OFF-BROADWAY: Fabulation ( Playwrights Horizons); The Square ( Ma-Yi & The Public Theater); A Streetcar Named Desire ( NYTW); The Plank Project ( Bobblehead Productions). REGIONAL: Breath, Boom (Yale Rep); Oedipus ( Hartford Stage); Anton In Showbusiness ( Humana Festival); King Lear ( Guthrie); Having Our Say ( various theatres). FILM: The Royal Tenenbaums; Saving Face; Happy Accidents TELEVISION: "Queen Supreme"; "Hope & Faith"; "Law & Order". TRAINING: MFA- University of Minnesota. BA-Albright College. Dedicated to her family, Dr. Lynn Morrow, and her grandmothers Odessa Van Camp and Lurlean Floyd.
JOHN HOFFMAN (Nurse, and others) After 15 years working in film and TV, John makes his Broadway debut with "Well." Last on a New York stage in his play Northern Lights (later a cable film starring John and Diane Keaton) he also directed Lisa Kron's 101 Humiliating Stories at The New York Theatre Workshop. A series regular on Fox's "Fortune Hunter" and Disney's "Adventures in Wonderland," John also wrote and directed the feature Good Boy! for MGM and is currently developing projects with Brian Grazer and Bill Condon. Thrilled to work again with Lisa, he sends love and thanks to family, Peg, and of course, Tony and Jody.
CHRISTINA KIRK. (Joy, and others) Credits include Nobody’s Lunch (PS 122), Suitcase (La Jolla Playhouse, Soho Rep), the Obie-winning [sic] (Soho Rep), Stage Door (HERE), and David Auburn’s Fifth Planet (NYSF). Film and Television credits include Melinda and Melinda, Bug, Final, Safe Men, Law and Order: SVU, Law and Order: Trial by Jury and Stella. She is a founding associate artist of the Obie-winning Civilians.
RANDY DANSON (Standby for Ann) has been acting on stage mostly but also on television and film for a very long time and all over the place. She has won some awards but her favorite is an OBIE for sustained excellence. She recently started designing and selling jewelry.
COLMAN DOMINGO (Understudy) Off Broadway: Henry V (NYSF/Public), Bright Ideas (MCC), and Wet (SPF). Regional: A.C.T., Berkeley Rep, Guthrie, Huntington, Cal Shakes, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, San Jose Rep, Perseverance and Theaterworks among others. Recent Films: Freedomland, Theater is Dead and Kung Phooey. His solo “A Boy and his Soul” will debut Off Broadway soon.
DONNETTA LAVINIA GRAYS. (Understudy) Broadway debut. Regional Theatre: Raisin in the Sun, The Royal Family(Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Twelfth Night (Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Co.), Much Ado About Nothing(Charleston Shakespeare Co.). Television: Law & Order: CI, Law & Order: SVU (Recurring). BA: College of Charleston. MFA: University of California – Irvine.
CINDY KATZ (Standby for Lisa Kron). B'wy: “Constanze" in Amadeus; Off-B'wy: A Late Supper, Troilus and Cressida,Beau Jest; Regional: Yale Rep, The Guthrie, Williamstown, South Coast Rep, The Intiman, The Ahmanson, Shakes. Theater of NJ; Film: Heat, I Love Trouble, The Age of Innocence; TV: many regular, recurring and guest star roles. Training: SUNY New Paltz and Yale School of Drama. For Mom.
JOEL VAN LIEW. (Understudy) Regional: Well (A.C.T.), The Pavilion (world premiere, City Theatre, Pittsburgh), Born Yesterday (Steppenwolf). New York: Well (Public Theater), Nighthawks (Willow Cabin Theatre Co. and E.S.T.), Peas & Carrots (Courthouse Theatre Co., NY Fringe), Mephisto (Reverie Productions). Television: Law and Order, The City, Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Training: Northwestern University, Circle in the Square.