Helen Hunt to Lead Broad Stage's OUR TOWN
Oscar winning Actress Helen Hunt and MacArthur Award-winning director David Cromer triumph in a landmark production of Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize-winning Our Town that is "... probably the only production to enter the theater history books" (New York Times). The Broad Stage itself will be physically transformed, allowing for only 325 seats, to bring Grover's Corners, the play's every town USA, truly home. Forget nostalgic Americana or anything you recall from your high school production. Our Town has been reclaimed as the relevant and urgent work of art about living here and now, reminding us why it is a truly timeless - and timely - masterpiece. KCRW presents this production with Helen Hunt as the Stage Manager leading many of the original Chicago/New York cast in stripping away the myth and artifice to reveal what counts in Our Town and in ourselves.
The entire Broad Stage will be reconfigured to accommodate this innovative production of Our Town. Part of the story is that this is not a proscenium production. "The challenge when we went to The Broad which is larger than our previous venues was how can we not separate ourselves from our scene partner, the audience? We're changing the footprint of the space in a very fascinating and interesting way" stated Cromer. He came up with an idea of creeping the action out into the house, and treating the entire space, not just the stage, as the playing area. Cromer adds, "we're trying to create something that is physically very near to the audience and very intimate, sort of one-on-one".
Dale Franzen, Director at the Broad Stage had this to say, "One of the things this production direction and design does is that you actually feel like you are a part of Grover's Corner. It's not that - these are actors and they're separate - but actually, after a while you begin to forget that you're not in that town with them. I think that's still what makes it such a great play; it isn't about the 1900s. It's about a town and all the little things that happen to people every day. It is a profound, important and deep play and really speaks to the American spirit. To me, Thornton Wilder is like our William Shakespeare".
Cromer's award-winning production team includes Alison Siple, Costume Designer and Heather Gilbert, Lighting Designer. Gilbert worked with Cromer on the Chicago and New York productions of Our Town, A Streetcar Named Desire at Williamstown Theater Festival and at Writer's Theater. She is also the 1999-2001 recipient of the NEA TCG Development Program. She and Cromer decided not to use theatrical lighting instruments and to create their own grid of lights at the Broad Stage which strips away more of the conventional theatricality.
Siple received the 2010 Equity Jeff Award for Outstanding Costume Design for the Mystery of Irma Vep and the 2011 Non-Equity Jeff Award for "Cabaret". She was also named The Most Prolific Theater Artist of the Decade by Time Out Chicago, and an associate artistic director with Looking Glass Theater. Her contribution to this production is to help make it relevant and contemporary through the costumes. Siple explains, "by not dressing the actors in period clothing - the moms are wearing jeans and sweaters - the audience is hearing those parent-child conversations that were written so long ago, lose some of that "dustiness. You actually listen to the conversation and are "wowed" by the fact that Wilder wrote this so long ago; that this could be the same conversation you'd have with your teenage child the night before".
Written by Thornton Wilder, Our Town explores the lives of people living in a small, quintessentially American town as depicted through their everyday lives (particularly George Gibbs, a doctor's son, and Emily Webb, the daughter of the town's newspaper editor and George's future wife). Covering a 13 year period, Wilder uses the actions of the Stage Manager to create the town of Grover's Corners for the audience. Scenes from its history between the years of 1901 and 1913 play out. The play is divided into three aspects of the human experience: Act One - Daily Life, Act Two - Love / Marriage and Act Three - Death / Loss. It was first produced in 1938 and received the Pulitzer Prize for Literature.
Helen Hunt became a nationally beloved actress on the sitcom Mad About You, for which she won four Emmys, before going on to win a Best Actress Academy Award for her role in the romantic dra-medy As Good As It Gets, co-starring with Hollywood legend Jack Nicholson and Greg Kinnear. In this production of Our Town, Hunt shines in a role traditionally given to men, giving her own indelible interpretation to a role played by such luminaries as HAl Holbrook, Henry Fonda and Paul Newman. Hunt's performance draws out untapped resonances between the Stage Manager and the women of Our Town, adding a depth of feeling to a role often played with dry detachment. Hunt has now come full circle with Our Town having portrayed the role of Emily earlier in her career.
Director David Cromer, who has also played the Stage Manager himself, says Hunt brings a potent mix of qualities to the role, moving gracefully between warmth and wryness, darkness and mischievousness. Cromer, who has been acclaimed for his work Off-Broadway and in his native Chicago, won an Obie Award for his direction of a 2009 production of Our Town and in 2010 was named a MacArthur Fellow. In early 2011, he directed the Broadway revival of The House of Blue Leaves, which starred Ben Stiller, Edie Falco, and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Under the leadership of Director Dale Franzen and Artistic Chair Dustin Hoffman, The Eli and Edythe Broad Stage at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center opened its doors in Santa Monica in October 2008. Inspired by Italian "horseshoe" theaters, yet conceived in an absolutely contemporary vernacular, The Broad Stage is an artist's dream and an audience's delight. Unlike any performance space in the country, it is sublimely intimate with 499-seats and strikingly grand at the same time - allowing eye contact with artists from the boxes to the back row -forging a new kind of artist and audience experience in Los Angeles. Theater, dance, film, jazz, operas, musicals, symphony, chamber orchestras and world music are presented on one of the city's largest proscenium stages. The space was designed without compromise to embrace the artistic process from inspiration to opening night, and conceived as a global theater and community hub. In addition to The Broad Stage, The Edye Second Space, a smaller black box theater, presents new, developing and innovative work in theater, music and dance as part of the Under the Radar Series. Featuring younger, innovative artists and chamber pieces and plays, programming at The Edye is intentionally spontaneous, reflecting the dynamic nature of the space and allowing the latest, most exciting artists to be booked on short notice. The Broad Stage ARTS INSIGHTS education and outreach program offers opportunities for cultural exposure through six initiatives. These include Student Matinees, In-School Workshops, Master Classes, Open Rehearsals, Family and Community Events, and Conversation Pieces. ARTS INSIGHTS currently reaches 12,000 students and diverse community members annually through over 30 free and low-cost events.
Visit The Broad Stage online at www.TheBroadStage.com.
Tickets: Previews: $40-$65; Opening Night: $95-$175 (includes after-party); TU/WED/THUR: $50-$85; FRI/SAT Matinee: $65-$110 and FRI/SAT Evening: $85-$135. Tickets are available online at www.TheBroadStage.com or call 310.434.3200. Parking is FREE.