Mint Theater's American Premiere of Elizabeth Baker's PARTNERSHIP Begins Performances Saturday

Performances will begin Saturday September 30th and continue through November 12th at Theatre Row.

By: Sep. 28, 2023
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Mint Theater Company will present the American Premiere of Elizabeth Baker’s Partnership.  Performances will begin Saturday September 30th and continue through November 12th at Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street, between 9th and Dyer Avenues).  Opening Night is set for October 19th. Tickets are on sale now.

Jackson Grace Gay (Mint’s A Little Journey) directs a cast that features Gina Daniels (Mint: Becomes a Woman; Broadway: Network; Off-Broadway: Judgment Day - Park Avenue Armory); Joshua Echebiri (Off-Broadway: Merry Wives - Public Theater/ Delacorte); Gene Gillette (Broadway: To Kill a Mockingbird; Off-Bway: Orpheus Descending - Theatre for a New Audience; National Tours: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, War Horse);  Olivia Gilliatt (Mint: Chains; Off-Broadway: Mother of the Maid - Public Theater);  Sara Haider (Pakistani singer-songwriter and actress, making her Off-Broadway debut);  Christiane Noll (Broadway: Ragtime - Tony & Drama Desk nominations; Chaplin The Musical - Drama Desk nomination; Dear Evan Hansen, It Ain't Nothin' but the Blues, Jekyll & Hyde; Off-Broadway: Kid Victory - Vineyard; Closer Than Ever - The York; Call the Children Home - Primary Stages; God of Carnage - TBTB; City Center Encores!: 1776, The New Moon, Out of this World); Tom Patterson (Broadway: 1984; Off-Broadway: Three Sisters, About Love- Sheen Center; The Color of Justice - Theatreworks/USA); and Madeline Seidman (Mint: Becomes a Woman). Jonathan Champion and AhDream Smith will serve as understudies.

This is the third offering in Mint’s series “Meet Miss Baker,” which began in 2019 with The Price of Thomas Scott, Baker’s fascinating and frustrating portrayal of a man struggling with his conscience, and was followed by Chains, the story of a few ordinary people yearning for a less ordinary life. 

Like Baker’s Chains, Partnership is a story of yearning for more, but wrapped in the pink charmeuse of light comedy. Kate Rolling owns a small but very smart shop in Brighton and is eager to grow. When George Pillatt, owner of the biggest shop in Brighton, proposes a merger on favorable terms — including matrimony — Kate sees an irresistible business opportunity. “Oh, don't worry about me,” Kate assures her colleagues, “I never expected anything great in the way of love.” But isn’t romance most likely when it’s least expected?  

Partnership is a delightfully refreshing take on the importance of work-life balance and a celebration of the eye-opening power of love. Baker’s play premiered in 1917, a balm for war-weary theatergoers. “One of the very few intelligent and, therefore, really interesting plays of the moment is Partnership at the Court by Miss Elizabeth Baker… It is the eternal battle of the spirit over the material… Don’t miss Partnership. It grips you precisely because it is not a fairy tale,” wrote The Graphic.

“Meet Miss Baker” is  part of Mint’s ongoing commitment to create new life for neglected women playwrights, as evidenced most recently by its World Premiere production of Becomes a Woman by Betty Smith. “To its credit, the Mint has long rescued obscure plays by women, from Maurine Watkins’s So Help Me God! and Dawn Powell’s Walking Down Broadway to the rehabilitation of Teresa Deevy (who landed four productions over seven years). It’s easy to see what drew the Mint Theater Company, that esteemed excavator of long-forgotten works, to The Price of Thomas Scott… The show brings up tantalizingly thorny issues of faith, hypocrisy, sacrifice and selfishness, they are like dark clouds hovering above the story,” said Elisabeth Vincentelli in The New York Times. 

The creative team for Partnership includes Alexander Woodward (scenic), Fabian Aguilar (costumes), M.L. Geiger (lighting), Daniel Baker (sound), Chris Fields (props), Amy Stoller (dialects and dramaturgy), and Stephanie Klapper, CSA (casting), who was nominated for an Artios Award by the Casting Society of America for Mint Theater’s The Daughter-in-Law.

Performances will be Tuesday through Saturday at 7PM, with matinees Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2PM. There will be no performance on Friday October 20th or Tuesday October 31st; and no evening performances on October 11th, 25th, or November 8th (matinees only on those dates).

Theatre Row, located at 410 West 42nd Street (between 9th & 10th Avenues), is a fully accessible venue: all bathrooms are accessible; there is an elevator to all floors; the bar and lounge are fully accessible; assisted listening devices are available. Theatre Row is committed to the safety of its patrons and staff. All guests are encouraged to wear masks while inside the theater.

Tickets for Partnership, which are on sale now, start at $39 and may be purchased online at Theatre Row Box Office.  Tickets may also be purchased by phone at 212/714-2442, ext. 45 (daily from 12Noon to 5PM), or in person at the Theatre Row Box Office (located at 410 West 42nd Street).  Service fees will apply for online or phone orders.

Elizabeth Baker, startled her contemporaries with the realist landmark Chains (1909). In this and the twelve produced plays that followed, Baker focused extraordinary attention on the lives of London’s clerks, shopgirls, and suburban strivers. Drawn in her life and work to themes of wanderlust, Baker wrote plays that incisively explore the constraints of class, gender, and social convention upon individual agency, while centralizing the ambitions and desires of working women.  Characterized in the press as an untrained “girl-novice,” the thirty-two-year old Baker created a theatrical sensation with her first full-length play, Chains. First presented by the Play Actors in 1909, and then by Charles Frohman at the Duke of York’s Theatre, Chains focused on lower-middle-class characters longing to break away from routines of work and marriage, with clerk Charlie Wilson looking to new horizons in Australia. Baker earned praise for her “keenness of observation, her powers of drawing characters from the life, and her gift of writing dialogue that is natural and unforced” (The Field). The Bystander called Chains “one of the greatest plays that has been produced in this country for many a long day.” Baker followed Chains with a versatile range of challenging and original plays that premiered on the stages of England’s repertory theaters, as well as in the West End. These included Edith (1912), a one-act feminist comedy for the Women Writer’s Suffrage League; the comic drama The Price of Thomas Scott (1913, Gaiety Theatre, Manchester); and her scintillating business-world comedy Partnership (1917, Court Theatre).  Despite receiving glowing reviews for the tragicomic Penelope Forgives (1930), Baker faced declining production prospects in the early 1930s. Her career as a professional playwright apparently concluded with the one-act One of the Spicers (1932).  She died in Hertfordshire on March 8, 1962. 

Jackson Grace Gay’s recent work includes Christina Anderson’s the ripple, the wave that carried me home (Berkeley Rep); The Mousetrap (Hartford Stage); Wait Until Dark (Dorset Theatre Festival); Karen Hartman’s Goldie, Max & Milk (Volt Festival 59e59); Endless Loop of Gratitude with New Neighborhood (New Ohio’s Ice Factory); Lucy Thurber’s Transfers for Audible, MCC, and New York Stage & Film; When Harry Met Rehab (Chicago’s Greenhouse Theater); Lover Beloved with Suzanne Vega and Duncan Sheik (Alley Theatre); God’s Ear and The Seagull (Juilliard); Kleptocracy by Kenneth Lin (Arena Stage) and These Paper Bullets! by Rolin Jones with music by Billie Joe Armstrong (New Neighborhood, Atlantic, Geffen, Yale Rep – Critics Pick Time Out NY, Best Production and Adaptation LA Stage Awards, Time Out Los Angeles, Connecticut Critics Circle Award Best Production and Best Director). Jackson is the co-producing artistic director of New Neighborhood which recently joined forces with Rattlestick and The Commissary to produce Why Would I Dare: The Trial of Crystal Mason. New Neighborhood also produced Filibustered and Unfiltered: America Reads the Mueller Report, which was featured everywhere from the Los Angeles Times (“a live-theater summer sensation!”) to Breitbart News (“the single most boring and pointless way to waste your time!”). Jackson holds an MFA in Directing from Yale School of Drama. 

Mint recently co-produced, with the Jermyn Street Theatre in London, the U.K. premiere of Yours Unfaithfully. Mint Producing Artistic Director Jonathan Bank directed the World Premiere of this 1933 play in New York for the Mint in 2016-’17 and created a new production for London with an all-British cast and a team of local designers (plus Mint collaborator Jane Shaw designing sound). “We were delighted to begin an association with our like-minded colleagues across the Atlantic, while introducing U.K. theatergoers to one of our favorite playwrights, London’s very own Miles Malleson, whose work has been produced three times by the Mint in New York,” said Bank.  The Times awarded the production four stars, while asking for more: “Let's hope we have a chance to see more of the Mint repertoire here.” David Benedict, writing for The Stage, called the play “an unmissable delight.”

"Of all the countless Off-Broadway troupes with which the side streets of Manhattan are dotted, none has a more distinctive mission—or a higher artistic batting average—than the Mint Theater Company, which 'finds and produces worthwhile plays from the past that have been lost or forgotten.' If that sounds dull to you, don’t be fooled: I’ve never seen a production there that was a sliver less than superb. Rachel Crothers’s Susan and God, John Galsworthy’s The Skin Game, Harley Granville-Barker’s The Madras House, N.C. Hunter’s A Day by the Sea, Dawn Powell’s Walking Down Broadway, Jules Romains’s Doctor Knock, John Van Druten’s London Wall: All these fine plays and others just as good have been exhumed by the Mint to memorable effect in the 13 years that I’ve been reviewing the company, a tribute to the uncanny taste and unfailing resourcefulness of Jonathan Bank, the artistic director," said Terry Teachout in the Wall Street Journal. Mint was awarded an OBIE Award 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.”

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Review Roundup: PARTNERSHIP at the Mint Theater Company Photo
Review Roundup: PARTNERSHIP at the Mint Theater Company

Mint Theater Company just celebrated opening night of the American Premiere of Elizabeth Baker’s Partnership. Let's see what the critics had to say...

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