Mint Theater's LONDON WALL Begins Performances Tomorrow
Mint Theater's next production, London Wall by John Van Druten, featuring Julia Coffey, Katie Gibson, Matthew Gumley, Jonathan Hogan, Laurie Kennedy, Elise Kibler, Stephen Plunkett, Christopher Sears, and Alex Trow will begin performances tomorrow, Saturday February 1st and continue through March 30th. Opening Night is set for Monday February 24th (7pm) at Mint's home (311 West 43rd Street). This will be the American premiere of John Van Druten's "rivetingly entertaining" (The Guardian) romantic drama.
Davis McCallum, who staged he 2012 Pulitzer-Prize winning play Water by the Spoonful at Second Stage, as well as the award-winning production of The Whale at Playwrights Horizons, will direct. London Wall will have scenic design by Marion Williams, costume design by Martha Hally, lighting design by Nicole Pearce, sound design by Jane Shaw and properties design by Joshua Yocum.
London Wall by John Van Druten explores the tumultuous lives and love affairs of the women employed as shorthand typists in a busy solicitor's office in 1930's London. Pat Milligan, a naïve young typist, falls for the charms of a predatory junior lawyer. Watching with concern is the firm's senior secretary, her too-timid suitor and several others in the office. Presiding over all is Mr. Walker, gamely trying to navigate a new kind of office where men and women must work side by side. The play made its premiere in May of 1931 at the Duke of York's Theatre in London and was acclaimed for its hyper-realistic depiction of office life as well as its soulful probing of the dreams and desires of its female characters. "Here is life as it is lived under the pressure of institutions," wrote Ivor Brown in The Observer. "Here are people struggling with things, amusing each other, enraging each other, and enchanting each other."
London Wall recently received an acclaimed revival at London's Finborough Theater, where many responded to how well the play had held up after 82 years. "It hasn't been revived until now, yet comes up fresh as paint," hailed Charles Spencer of The Telegraph, calling London Wall "a fascinating and sometimes deeply touching play." Henry Hitchings of the London Evening Standard continued the praise saying, "The greatest pleasures lie in Van Druten's perceptive writing, which feels wonderfully fresh...the play itself is a satisfying rediscovery, eloquent about the relationship between work, class and romance."
Best known today for his Broadway hits as Old Acquaintance, The Voice of the Turtle, I Remember Mama, Bell, Book and Candle, and I Am a Camera (which inspired the classic Broadway musical Cabaret), John Van Druten wrote deftly observed, character-driven plays that ranged from the realistic atmosphere of his early West End plays, to the sentimental charm of his wartime hits, to the daring allurements of his final works. In his early West End plays, Van Druten became noted for his sensitive portrayals of young romantics and would-be bohemians, as well as for the "truthful naturalism" of his settings. Van Druten's most successful plays during this era include the domestic drama After All (1931), London Wall (1931), for which Van Druten drew upon his personal experience working in a legal office, and the romantic comedy There's Always Juliet (1932). Van Druten enjoyed a transatlantic success that carried him to Hollywood, where he co-wrote such classics as Gaslight, and also contributed (uncredited) to the screenplay of Gone with the Wind.
Van Druten enjoyed phenomenal Broadway success in the WWII era, with a string of critically acclaimed hits. After the effervescent Old Acquaintance (1940), Van Druten wrote the three-character romantic comedy The Voice of the Turtle (1943), which ran for a stunning 1,557 performances. The nostalgic I Remember Mama, based on Kathryn Forbes' novel Mama's Bank Account, similarly moved wartime audiences as an impressionistic "family album." Van Druten's hits continued with Bell, Book and Candle (1950), about a seductive witch secretly practicing sorcery in modern Manhattan. 1951's I Am a Camera, adapted from his close friend Christoper Isherwood's Berlin Stories, provided an iconic role for Julie Harris as the decadent Weimar party girl Sally Bowles. Appreciated in his own lifetime for his "amusing, touching plays, written lightly and expertly, and with beguiling style" (as described by The New York Times' Brooks Atkinson), Van Druten is in the midst of an exciting resurgence sure to stir vivid theatrical memories, as well as to enchant new generations of theater-goers.
"The Mint does for forgotten drama what the Encores! series does for musicals, on far more modest means" (The New York Times). The Mint was awarded an OBIE for "combining the excitement of discovery with the richness of tradition," and a special Drama Desk Award for "unearthing, presenting and preserving forgotten plays of merit." Ben Brantley, in The New York Times Arts & Leisure hailed the Mint as the "resurrectionist extraordinaire of forgotten plays."
Performances will be Tuesday through Thursday at 7 PM, Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 2 PM & 8 PM, and Sunday at 2 PM. Special added Wednesday Matinees on February 19th and March 12th at 2pm. PLEASE NOTE: There will be no performances on February 18th and 25th or March 11th.
Tickets are $55 with some half-price tickets (CheapTix) and Premium Seats ($65) available for most performances. Performances take place on the Third Floor of 311 West 43rd Street.