STAGE TUBE: Promo for JVO Productions' THE OLD SETTLER, Opening Tonight
In THE OLD SETTLER, Two women test the bonds of sisterhood in a bittersweet comedy set during the Harlem Renaissance. JVO Productions in association with InterACT Theatre Company presents The Old Settler by John Henry Redwood, opening tonight, Sept. 1 at the Pico Playhouse in West Los Angeles. Check out a new promo for the production, featuring interviews with the actors, below!
William Stanford Davis ("Potato Pie" on the new Showtime series Ray Donovan) directs John Roderick Davidson, Crystal Garrett, Ruby Hinds and Jolie Oliver in the funny and moving story of Elizabeth and Quilly, middle-aged sisters who share a Harlem apartment during World War II. When a strapping young man, fresh from the backwoods of South Carolina, takes a room as a boarder, romance blooms between lonely 55-year old Elizabeth and the handsome young newcomer - and old hurts and new tensions surface between the sisters.
The current production was first workshopped at the Beverly Hills Playhouse in 2009.
"The audience reaction was overpowering, so the five of us knew we wanted to remount it," explains Oliver, who plays younger sister Quilly. "It's been years, but people still come up to us because they were so moved."
"The play is funny, poignant, and well-written," says Alan Naggar, who produces for InterACT. "And it touches tangentially on so much - the Harlem Renaissance with its hot music and swinging nightclubs, the migration of African Americans from the South to the North, even the impending civil rights movement."
The Old Settler was first performed at the 1995 Eugene O'Neill Theatre Conference in Waterford, Connecticut. It was seen there by the Russian Theatre Union, and in 1996, the play was produced in Sheleykovo, Russia, followed by a run in Moscow. In 1997, The Old Settler had its first American production at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey, a co-production with New Haven's Long Wharf Theatre. Since then, there have been numerous productions of The Old Settler throughout the U.S., and the play has been recognized with an American Theatre Critics Award, the Virginia Duvall Mann Award, the Beverly Hills/Julie Harris Playwrights Award, and the Bryan Family Foundation Drama Award for Southern Literature. In 2001, The Old Settler was adapted for television and presented by PBS, starring Debbie Allen and Phylicia Rashad.
"When I was in Russia," Mr. Redwood once said in an interview, "we had a question and answer session and someone stood up and said that the play is very Chekhovian. That's why it took so well over there. But the greatest honor came to me when a woman stood up and said that she didn't believe that a man had written this play. That was the greatest compliment in the world to me."
John Henry Redwood was an actor best know for his roles in the plays of August Wilson, and a playwright whose works, The Old Settler and No Niggers, No Jews, No Dogs, have been widely produced in recent years. He died in 2003 in Philadelphia. In his bio for a production of The Old Settler at New York's Primary Stages he wrote, "John Henry, having once studied for the ministry, believes that being a good actor or dentist or golfer is only one's avocation. One's vocation is being the best human being one can be." One of Mr. Redwood's favorite quotations was, "I shall pass this way only once, therefore, whatever good I can do, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again."
Alan Naggar is the president of InterACT Theatre Company. He is the recipient of an LA Weekly Production of the Year award for August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottomand an Ovation Best Production award for Wilson's Jitney, both produced under the banner of his By the Skin of Our Teeth Productions company.
Set design for The Old Settler is by Thomas Brown, lighting design is by Carol Doehring, costume design is by Grace Goodson and props are by Chuck Loring.
The Old Settler will run Fridays and Saturdays @ 8 p.m. and Sundays @ 3 p.m., Sept. 1 through Oct. 27, with two preview performances on Aug. 30 and Aug. 31 at 8 p.m. All tickets are $32, except previews which are $16. The Pico Playhouse is located at 10508 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064 (three blocks east of Overland at Patricia). For reservations and information, call (323) 960-7712 or go to www.plays411.com/oldsettler.
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