Cincinnati Playhouse Stages 4000 MILES, Now thru 3/9
Vera Joseph and her grandson Leo discover connections both humorous and touching in Amy Herzog's acclaimed play 4000 MILES, an intimate comedy-drama which runs in The Playhouse's Thompson Shelterhouse Theatre from today, Feb. 8 through March 9.
"I've loved this play since I saw it in New York," says Playhouse Artistic Director Blake Robison, who will direct 4000 MILES. "It's simple and honest. There are no tricks. It doesn't play with theatrical form. It's just a moving story about a 21-year-old guy and his 91-year-old grandmother helping each other in a time of need."
In The Playhouse production, Vera Joseph will be played by stage and television veteran Rosemary Prinz, who comes to the role with a wealth of acting experience. She is best known in the world of soap opera television for her portrayal of Penny Hughes in the daytime show As the World Turns - a role she played from 1956 to 1968 to much recognition and popularity. Prinz has also performed in more than 300 plays around the world. On Broadway, she made her debut in The Grey-Eyed People in 1952 and appeared with Jack Lemmon in the 1978 production of Tribute. Other Broadway credits include Prisoner of Second Avenue, Three Men on a Horse, Tonight in Samarkand and Late Love. Off-Broadway, she originated the role of M'Lynn in Steel Magnolias, and her national tours have included Driving Miss Daisy, Last of the Red Hot Lovers and California Suite.
It's the middle of the night when Leo arrives unannounced at Vera's Greenwich Village apartment at the terminus of a cross-country trip, carrying far more weight than his bicycle gear. Despite their 70-year age gap, a comradeship grows between them as they spend time together as two adults at divergent stages of life. Leo is running from recent events, while Vera is anchored somewhat in her past. Dramatic elements of each of their stories unfold in layers - without undue sentimentality, yet with poignancy and heart.
For Robison, what makes 4000 MILES compelling is that "theirs is a relationship that you don't see on stage very often. It's unusual for kids to really know their grandparents these days, so the coming together of these two lonely souls is beautiful and touching."
4000 MILES premiered off-Broadway as a Steinberg New Works Program production in June 2011, presented by Lincoln Center Theatre/LCT3 in New York City. It then moved to New York's Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater in April 2012, garnering an Obie Award for Best New American Play. 4000 MILES was named Time magazine's No. 1 Play or Musical of 2012 and was also a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. "No one currently writing for the theater has a sharper grasp of character, or more sheer storytelling technique," Time wrote of Herzog.
Herzog has included semi-biographical elements in 4000 MILES. Vera is inspired by her real-life grandmother Leepee Joseph, whom Herzog has described as "funny, dry, sassy and devastating." The characters of Vera and Leo also appeared, in smaller roles, in Herzog's play After the Revolution, which explored the radical leftist politics of her forebears. Herzog's other plays include The Great God Pan and Belleville.
In addition to Rosemary Prinz, the cast for 4000 MILES includes Robbie Tann as Leo Joseph-Connell, Adina Verson as Bec and Christine Lin as Amanda and Lily. The play's creative team includes set designer James Kronzer, costume designer David Kay Mickelsen, lighting designer Matthew Richards and sound designer Matthew M. Nielson. Jenifer Morrow is the production stage manager.
Prices range from $30 to $80, depending on performance date and seat location. Prices are subject to change, and patrons are encouraged to buy early for the best seats at the best prices. Teen and student tickets are $25 each. Previews are at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8; 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9; 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11; and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12. The official opening night is Thursday, Feb. 13, at 8 p.m. Performances take place at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sundays.