Starry William Inge Rep Begins Tonight at Transport Group
Transport Group presents Picnic and Come Back, Little Sheba: William Inge in Repertory, directed by Artistic Director Jack Cummings III, featuring Tony nominee John Cariani (Something Rotten) as Howard (Picnic) and Service Men (Sheba); Hannah Elless (Bright Star) as Millie (Picnic) and Marie (Sheba); OBIE winner David Greenspan (The Patsy) as Elmo (Sheba); Joseph Kolinski (Follies) as Doc (Sheba); Ginna Le Vine as Madge (Picnic); Heather Mac Rae (I Remember Mama) as Mrs. Potts (Picnic) and Lola (Sheba); David T. Patterson (Les Liaisons Dangereuses) as Hal (Picnic) and Turk (Sheba); Tony winner Michele Pawk (Hollywood Arms) as Flo (Picnic); Jennifer Piech (Titanic) as Irma (Picnic) and Mrs. Coffman ( Sheba); Krystal Rowley as Christine (Picnic); Jay Russell (Travels with My Aunt) as Ed (Sheba); Emily Skinner (Billy Elliot) as Rosemary (Picnic); and Rowan Vickers (Nat Turner in Jerusalem) as Alan (Picnic) and Bruce (Sheba).
The two plays will be performed in rotating repertory; six actors of the fourteen-member ensemble will perform in both plays. Picnic and Come Back, Little Sheba: William Inge in Repertory begins performances tonight, February 23, and runs through Sunday, April 16 at the Gym at Judson, 243 Thompson Street. The opening night has been set for Sunday, March 26. Tickets are now on sale at transportgroup.org.
In the spirit of its OBIE Award-winning revival of William Inge's The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, Transport Group returns to the master playwright by presenting two of his greatest works in rotating repertory-Picnic and Come Back, Little Sheba-timeless, mid-century, mid-American plays from one of the canon's most insightful and underestimated playwrights. Inge, an archeologist of American loneliness, writes with an aggressive empathy for the triumphs and failures of the heart at a time in our country's history when the possibility of greatness was alluringly just at the fingertips.
The men and women of Inge's America are sexy. They are heartbreaking. They are alarming. They are ruthless. They are afraid. They are hopeful. Picnic and Come Back, Little Sheba in rotating repertory offer audiences a rare opportunity to experience back-to-back masterpieces that expose what Elia Kazan termed the "quiet terror" of Inge's world.
In Picnic when a gorgeous drifter arrives in a small Kansas town, no one is prepared. He brings with him the possibilities and promises-some true, some false- of a life with real options. His instant and incendiary chemistry with a local 18-year old unexpectedly destroys the illusions of comfort harbored by everyone in this heartland's physically expansive and emotionally suffocating landscape. Inge's legendary Pulitzer-prize winning play is over 60 years old but the American questions of sex as currency, of class as possibility, and youth as opportunity are timeless.
In Come Back, Little Sheba, a Midwestern middle-aged couple lives one day to the next-Lola, breathless with fear of silence and solitude, and Doc, a recovering alcoholic. Into their tired lives comes Marie, their boarder, so flush with the riches of her youth that they can no longer deny how they spent their own. Their fragile acceptance of their own stifling reality is suddenly and brutally tested as Inge mercilessly exposes the pain and regret of the past that can be unmasked by the mere presence of youth and possibility of the future. Inge's play explores the endless and inevitable disappointments of the ever-seductive American dream.
Scenic design for Picnic and Come Back, Little Sheba: William Inge in Repertory is by Dane Laffrey; costume design is by Asta Hostetter; lighting design is by R. Lee Kennedy; casting is by Nora Brennan Casting. The production features an original score by five-time Tony nominee Michael John LaChiusa.
William Inge majored in Drama at the University of Kansas and went on to gain an MA at the George Peabody Teachers College. In 1943, he became the drama critic of the St. Louis Star Times, a position he held for three years. His first successful play was Come Back, Little Sheba (1950). His next play, Picnic (1953) won the Pulitzer Prize. It was followed by Bus Stop, which was later made into a hugely successful film starring Marilyn Monroe. Other works included The Dark At The Top Of The Stairs (1957), the screenplay for Splendor In The Grass (1961), A Loss Of Roses (1960), Natural Affection (1963) and Where's Daddy (1966).
Jack Cummings III is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Transport Group. Favorite Transport Group credits include Queen of the Mist by Michael John LaChuisa (world premiere), See Rocky City & Other Destinations by Brad Alexander and Adam Mathias (New York premiere), The Audience (conceiver, world premiere), cul-de-sac by John Cariani (world premiere), Normal by Yvonne Adrian, Tom Kochan, and Cheryl Stern (world premiere), Marcy in the Galaxy by Nancy Shayne (world premiere), Three Days To See (author/conceiver, word premiere), as well as revivals of I Remember Mama; Hello Again; First Lady Suite; Once Upon A Mattress; Almost, Maine; The Dark at the Top of the Stairs; The Boys in the Band; All The Way Home; and Our Town. Other New York credits include the world premiere of Terrence McNally's And Away We Go for Pearl Theatre Company, 1,000 Words Come To Mind by Michele Lowe and Scott Richards (Inner Voices, world premiere), and Arlington by Polly Pen and Victor Lodato (Inner Voices, world premiere). Regional credits include I Remember Mama (Two River Theatre Company), A Streetcar Named Desire (Gretna Playhouse, PA), Violet, and The Young Man From Atlanta (The Barksdale Theatre, VA), and The Illusion (Nevada Theatre Company). He received his B.A. in International Relations from The College of William and Mary and his M.F.A. in Directing from The University of Virginia. He is married to actress Barbara Walsh.
Founded in 2001, Transport Group has produced 25 shows comprised of 13 new works and 12 revivals, including 12 plays and 13 musicals. In addition to mainstage productions, Transport Group also produces readings, developmental labs, concerts, and other special events. Currently headed by founder Jack Cummings III (Artistic Director) and Lori Fineman (Executive Director), Transport Group recently concluded the first off-Broadway revival of Once Upon a Mattress, starring Jackie Hoffman and John "Lypsinka" Epperson. The 2015 season also included Three Days To See, an exploration of Helen Keller through her own writings. Recent seasons included the critically acclaimed revival of John Cariani's modern classic Almost, Maine, and the reimagined revival of the John Van Druten classic I Remember Mama. Transport Group has also recently produced a series of one-night-only star-studded concert events, featuring casts of over 60 actors and original orchestrations, featuring over 20 musicians. Concert titles include Baby (2012), Once Upon a Mattress (2013), The Music Man (2014), and Peter Pan (2016).