Keen Company's 15th Season to Feature Kathleen Chalfant in A WALK IN THE WOODS and Revival of JOHN & JEN
The Drama Desk and Obie Award-winning Keen Company today announced that their 2014 - '15 season will begin with the first major New York revival of Lee Blessing's A Walk In The Woods starring Kathleen Chalfant and Paul Niebanck, directed by Keen Artistic Director Jonathan Silverstein. It will be followed in the spring by a rare revival of John & Jen, the musical with music by Andrew Lippa, lyrics by Tom Greenwald, and a book by Lippa and Greenwald.
""I am thrilled to announce Keen's 15th Anniversary season. Since 2000, Keen has presented stories of people doing their best during challenging times. This season, we continue that tradition by presenting two revivals that explore the relationship between the personal and political. I have wanted to direct A Walk in he Woods since assisting a production early in my career at George Street Playhouse. In light of recent events, Lee's smart, entertaining and deeply personal treatment of a complex issue is just as important today as it was when originally presented. I am especially excited to welcome back two of our talented and distinguished alumni, Kathleen Chalfant (Painting Churches, Keen Season 12) and Paul Niebanck (Such Things Only Happen in Books, Keen Season 10), back to the Keen stage for Woods. In a twist, Kathy will be playing the Russian Botvinnik, originally written for a man but here adapted for a woman. Kathleen is unique and fearless actor and I have no doubt she will bring a refreshing and truly original interpretation to the role. In the spring Keen presents our second musical, John & Jen, an intimate production perfect for our home at The Clurman. The story of two siblings, and later a mother and son, beautifully depicts how complex familial relations can be. I am looking forward to reexamining this beloved early piece by Andrew Lippa and Tom Greenwald for a new audience. Finally, this holiday season we will bring our audiences an extra special treat as we reunite the original cast members of John Patrick's The Hasty Heart (Season 5), one of our most moving productions - and the first I ever directed for Keen - for one night only."
A Walk in the Woods, Lee Blessing's Pulitzer Prize nominated drama, is a revealing debate on the hope and ultimate futility of high-stakes politics. Two super power arms negotiators- one a cynical Russian veteran and the other an idealistic American newcomer - meet informally in the woods after long, frustrating hours at the bargaining table. A Walk in the Woods is a surprisingly humorous and timely story of the politics that divide us and the humanity that unites us. Mr. Blessing's play is a fictionalized account of the meeting between Paul Nitze and Yuli Kvitsinsky, who took a ''walk in the woods'' during the 1982 Geneva peace talks and came up with their own deal, which was later turned down by the United States and the Soviet Union. A Walk in the Woods was also nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play.
"I'm honored to have A Walk in the Woods return to New York with the Keen Company. It's precisely the sort of visionary, innovative theatre for the task. I still feel the thrill of Kathleen Chalfont's unforgettable performance in Wit. It's been a dream of mine to work with her ever since," said Lee Blessing. He added "In recent decades more and more women have reached the highest echelons of government in western developed nations. People like Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton, Janet Yellen and Christine Lagarde routinely wield responsibilities, which not long ago belonged only to men. Given such developments, it seems to me informative rather than jarring to re-envision a character from my play as a woman rather than a man."
Performances for this limited Off-Broadway engagement of A Walk In The Woods at The Clurman Theatre at Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues) will begin Tuesday, September 9th and continue through October 18th only, with opening night set for September 30th.
Kathleen Chalfant (Painting Churches - Keen Company; Obie, Outer Circle Critics, Drama Desk, and Lucille Lortel Awards - Wit; Tony Award nomination - Tony Kushner's Angels in America: Millennium Approaches; Obie Award - Alan Bennett's Talking Heads) and Paul Niebanck (RX - Primary Stages; Blood and Gifts, In the Next Room or the vibrator play - LCT; Shockheaded Peter - Little Shubert; All's Well That Ends Well, Coriolanus - TFANA; Pericles - TFANA at BAM; Bill W. and Dr. Bob - New World Stages) will comprise the cast. A Walk In The Woods will have scenic design by Scott Bradley, lighting design by Josh Bradford, costume design by Jennifer Paar, and sound design by M.L. Dogg.
Keen's spring show, John & Jen, also directed by Jonathan Silverstein, will begin performances February 10th, with Opening Night set for March 3rd. John & Jen has music by Andrew Lippa, lyrics by Tom Greenwald, and a book by Lippa and Greenwald. In a changing America between 1950 and 1990, John & Jen is a musical about brothers and sisters and parents and children. It tells the story of Jen and her relationships with the two Johns of her life: her younger brother, and his namesake, her son who is trying to find his way in a confusing world.
An early work from celebrated composer Andrew Lippa (The Wild Party, The Addams Family) and lyricist Tom Greenwald, John & Jen is an intimate story about connections, commitments and the healing of the human heart. The musical premiered Off-Broadway in 1995. The original cast recording was released by Ghostlight Records in digital form in 2012.
"We're thrilled that Jonathan Silverstein and his extraordinary team at Keen Company are bringing John and Jen back to New York, exactly twenty years after its off-Broadway premiere. This show means a tremendous amount to both of us, and it's extremely gratifying to bring it back home where it belongs. As Jen herself sings, 'The Road Ends Here!'," said Andrew Lippa and Tom Greenwald.
John Patrick's The Hasty Heart was originally presented by Keen in 2004. The moving story of a young Scottish soldier (Keith Nobbs) in a WWII army hospital, The Hasty Heart will reunite most of its original cast (Stephen Bradbury, Emily Donahoe, Anthony Manna, Keith Nobbs, Brian Sgambati, and Paul Swinnerton) for a one night only benefit reading on Monday, December 8th.
All performances will be at The Clurman Theatre at Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues) and will be Tuesday through Thursday evenings at 7pm; Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays at 2pm & 8pm; and Sunday matinees at 3pm.
Tickets for A Walk in the Woods will be $61.25 (plus a $1.25 Restoration Fee) or $80 for Premium Seating, while tickets to John & Jen will be $68.00 (plus a $1.25 Restoration Fee) or $85 for Premium Seating.
A subscription package for both shows of the season is only $99 (including a $10 service fee) that includes unlimited exchange privileges, invitations to Keen Company readings, and more! You'll also get discounts on the purchase of Keen's new cast recording of last season's hit Marry Me a Little and tickets to Keen's Hasty Heart reading on December 8, 2014 as well as Keen's annual benefit on May 4, 2015.
Individual tickets and subscriptions are on sale NOW! (Tickets for the reunion reading of The Hasty Heart will go on sale in October.) To purchase tickets visit Telecharge.com or call 212/239-6200. For subscriptions, call the Subscriber Hotline at 212/560-2185.
For more information, visit www.keencompany.org.