Rubicon Theatre Sets Director, Cast for OTHER DESERT CITIES
Rubicon Theatre Company Producing Artistic Director Karyl Lynn Burns today announced the director and cast for OTHER DESERT CITIES, Jon Robin Baitz's highly lauded story about a family in the public eye whose members must find a new way forward when each person's beliefs and illusions related to a pivotal family event are called into question. Filled with richly drawn characters, dramatic plot elements, and witty social commentary, OTHER DESERT CITIES garnered five Tony nominations and was awarded Outstanding Play by the Outer Critics Circle. The show takes its title from a sign off California's I-10 freeway where one continues on to Palm Springs or exits toward "Other Desert Cites."
OTHER DESERT CITIES is helmed by Rubicon Associate Producer Brian McDonald, whose previous Rubicon directing credits include The Sunset Limited, Master Harold...and the boys and Bus Stop.
Returning Rubicon artist Granville Van Dusen plays the character of Lyman Wyeth, the conservative patriarch of the family -- a former film-actor-turned-political-lion. Van Dusen was a mainstay at The Guthrie Theatre for many years and a veteran of the L.A. theatre scene, where he has performed at The Matrix Theatre, the Pantages and the Falcon. He is a familiar face to audiences having appeared in more than 200 episodic television shows and films. His Rubicon credits include A Moon for the Misbegotten, and A Delicate Balance, in which he appeared with Golden Globe Award-winner Amanda McBroom, who plays Lyman's wife Polly in OTHER DESERT CITIES. McBroom has also graced the Rubicon stage in Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris and appeared on and Off-Broadway, with the Ashland Shakespeare Festival and at The Old Globe. Michelle Duffy (Leap of Faith on Broadway and Ovation Award-Winner for Can-Can at The Pasadena Playhouse) makes her Rubicon debut as novelist Brooke Wyeth, the rebellious daughter who returns home to Palm Springs after a six- year absence to tell the family about the impending release of her memoirs. Other cast members are Trey Ellet (RENT on Broadway) as Tripp, Brooke's brother; and Deborah Taylor ("NYPD Blue", Associate Artist at The Old Globe) as Aunt Silda, whose liberal leanings are in direct opposition to those of her sister Polly.
Thomas S. Giamario designs sets and lights for OTHER DESERT CITIES; costumes are designed by Michael Mullen; and sound design and original compositions are by Peter Bayne. T. Theresa Scarano is prop designer and set dresser for the production. Jessie Vacchiano is the stage manager.
"Jon Robin Baitz has created a brilliant family drama told with equal parts wit and wisdom," says director Brian McDonald. "The characters in the play may be perceived at various moments as self-absorbed, frustrating, irritating, loving, tender and heroic," he continues. "And really - isn't that how we view those around us in life? The characters and relationships are complex and compelling, and I believe the sympathies and allegiances of the audience will constantly shift throughout the play from one character to another. The genius of Baitz's writing lies in his ability to use both illumination and obfuscation to eventually reveal absolute truth. Baitz has created a play that reminds all of us of who we are and why being human is so very complicated. His writing is modern, of course, and his voice is unique, but in this way he reminds me of playwrights like Williams, Inge and Miller."
Baitz was born in Los Angeles in 1961, and grew up in L.A., Brazil and South Africa. He is a Pulitzer finalist, a Guggenheim and NEA fellow, and American Academy of Arts & Letters Award-winner. He is a founder and former artistic director of New York's Naked Angels theatre company and on the faculty of The New School's graduate division. Baitz's plays include The Film Society, The Substance of Fire, Three Hotels, A Fair Country, Ten Unknowns, Mizlansky/Zilinsky, an adaptation of version of Ibsen's Hedda Gabler (produced with Annette Bening at The Geffen and with Kate Burton on Broadway), and The Paris Letter. His plays have been produced in New York by Playwrights Horizons, The Roundabout Theatre, Lincoln Center Theatre, and The Second Stage. He created the hit ABC TV show "Brothers & Sisters," which he also executive produced for the first two seasons. He also created and wrote the acclaimed 2015 TV mini-series "The Slap." His PBS film version of Three Hotels won a Humanitas Award. Other screenplays include "The Substance of Fire" with Ron Rifkin, Tony Goldwyn, Sarah Jessica Parker and Timothy Hutton (based on his play); and "People I Know," which starred Al Pacino. He has also written episodes of "The West Wing" and "Alias."
In a recent interview, Baitz described the impetus for OTHER DESERT CITIES. "I was in L.A. trying to cope with that TV show thing," said Baitz. "I would go out to the desert...just to try and clear my head... and my parents had a house there. I grew up going there as a kid and it was sort of enormous for me. It just spoke of a time that no longer existed. So I knew there was a play in the place, that it was a character, that it was the West - the end of the West even, and that it was now just parched."
Baitz talked about seeing that sign directing drivers to 'Other Desert Cities' and said that he always wondered what was out there, stating that to him "out there is the unknown and mythic."
OTHER DESERT CITIES opened Off-Broadway at Lincoln Center in New York on January 13, 2011, transferring to Broadway in November of that same year. The Broadway cast was Stacy Keach, Stockard Channing, Rachel Griffiths, Thomas Sadoski and Judith Light. The production ran for 261 performances and was nominated for 5 Tony Awards.
The Rubicon production of OTHER DESERT CITIES opens Saturday, May 30 at 7:00 p.m., with low-priced previews Wednesday, May 27 at 7:00 p.m., Thursday, May 28 at 8:00 p.m. and Friday, May 29 at 8:00 p.m. Performances continue Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays ad 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. through June 21. Performances are at Rubicon Theatre Company in Ventura's Downtown Cultural District, 1006 E. Main Street, Ventura, CA 93001. For information and tickets, call (805) 667-2900 or go to www.rubicontheatre.org.