ESP's Reading, MORNING'S AT SEVEN, Set for Today
ESP presents the great American comedy by the otherwise unjustly forgotten Paul Osborn, Morning's at Seven. Originally produced on Broadway in 1939, and set the year before, it ran only 44 performances, even though directed by the young tyro Joshua Logan. It wasn't until 1980 that the play was widely produced, after enjoying a major Broadway revival directed by Vivian Matalon. This production starred - as the four sisters at the center of the story - Nancy Marchand, Maureen O'Sullivan, Elizabeth Wilson, and Teresa Wright. The revival ran 564 performances, and was later televised by Showtime and PBS, and suddenly people remembered Paul Osborn.
He was a Yale-educatEd English teacher in Indiana who was drawn to play-writing not by any particular love of the theatre, he later said, but out of boredom with everything else. His first two plays were not hits, but his third, The Vinegar Tree, was. (It was produced beautifully by Daniel Sullivan at the Seattle Rep in 1983.) Also successful was his stage adaptation of the fantasy novel On Borrowed Time, turned into a spectacularly tear-jerking Lionel Barrymore movie. Osborn later wrote for the movies himself, crafting the adaptations of The Yearling, Sayonara, and East of Eden, among others. He had stopped writing by 1970, but lived to watch the amazing success of his early work; he passed in 1988.
In the play, the families of the four Bolton sisters are thrown into a bit of a tizzy when nephew Homer, at forty, decides to marry his thirty-nine year old sweetheart, Myrtle. Such radical change in a family that has been busy not examining its lives shakes the sisters, and their husbands, and what had seemed to be the habit of ordinary day-to-day existence suddenly looks like a rut. Osborn depicts change as a kind of virus; he is both forgiving and unsparing of his characters. As the brilliant critic Walter Kerr wrote of the 1980 production, "The play isn't gentle genre piece, an idle ticking away of frustrated hours. Mr. Osborn's vision is double, and penetrating on both sides. The playwright has blown up what is sad until it no longer looks sad at all, just as preposterous as it inherently is; because it now threatens to pop in your face, your funny-bone takes over."
ESP's reading, directed by Amy Love, features Seattle favorites Allan Armstrong, Josh Carter, Susan Corzatte, Allen Galli, Marty Mukhalian, Faye B. Summers, Annette Toutonghi, Rick Tutor, and Cynthia White.
The reading will take place today, 7 p.m. Monday, November 11 at the Stage One Theatre at North Seattle Community College - see below for directions! Doors will open at 6:30.
(And, P.S.: In December we will offer the J. B. Priestley masterpiece, When We Are Married! More about that later...)
THIS MONTH'S VENUE: Once again we are the guests of Stage One Theater at the North Seattle Community College...We thank the wonderful NSCC staff, particularly the inestimable Dawson Nichols, for making room for us!
The North Seattle Community College venue is called Stage 1, and it's in the Library building on the campus (the official address of which is 9600 College Way N (98103), should you want to Mapquest or Google Map it.) The college is West of I-5 (and Northgate Mall).
First of all, the college is served byMetro bus 16, among other routes!
But if you're driving: From I-5 coming N, it's easiest to take the Northgate exit; at the light at the end of the ramp, make a Right onto 1st Avenue NE; travel straight down to the stop sign at N 92nd Street and turn Right; at the next stop sign, which is College Way N, turn Right again; and after you pass the front of the college (on the Right), you'll come to N 97th street - turn Right into the parking lot.
For those coming south on I-5,the facility is also accessible from Northgate Way; the only trick is that you should go South on Meridian Avenue N, which becomes College Way N after a half-mile or so. Again, turn into the college at 97th.
If you'd care to travel on Aurora, turn East on 90th,go straight down to the stop sign on Wallingford Ave N; turn Left, and at the next stop sign, at N 92nd, turn Right, then, at the next stop sign, go Left on College Way N, taking the Right at 97th into the parking lot.
All campus parking is available for ESP patrons - ignore any signs to the contrary. However, allow a little extra time...classes are in session and you may need to search for a spot. What is the Endangered Species Project?
ESP is a confederation of Seattle theatre artists dedicated to presenting plays that seldom get full productions. In the present economic straits in which regional theatre now finds itself, much of the so-called established international repertoire is neglected, for various reasons: there are too many different settings, or the casts are too large, or, simply, the publicity requirements of selling a play that is both "old" and unfamiliar to general audiences may seem too daunting. We feel that while it is an essential duty of theatres to develop new work, our group sees a parallel need to celebrate older or otherwise neglected plays, and to explore the genius of playwrights such as Maxwell Anderson, George Abbott, Harold Brighouse, Zona Gale, Arthur Wing Pinero, and so many more. Through our simply staged presentations, we hope to lend live voices to plays that are now silent on our bookshelves.
For more about us and previous shows, visit us on the web: ESP Website.