Becky Shaw at Huntington Theatre
Peter DuBois Directs Gina Gionfriddo Hit
By: Bob Fowler - Feb 12, 2010
The Huntington Theatre Company continues its 28th season Â– a season of American stories Â– with artistic director Peter DuBois' hit 2009 Off Broadway production of Becky Shaw, a wickedly funny black comedy about a blind date gone bad. Named to The New York Times', Entertainment Weekly's, and Time Out New York's Best of 2009 lists, this clever, intricate tale of love, sex, and ethics about a group of complicated 30-somethings inaugurates a multi-year look at American comedy that will explore the history and future of the form. The exploration continues next season with Kaufman and Hart's great American comedy You Can't Take it With You.
"Becky Shaw is astonishingly skillful in the way it examines human behavior and personal relationships," says DuBois. "This is exactly what great comedy should do. Gina Gionfriddo has written a sharp, cunning play that shifts our perspective about the tensions between love, money, and happiness. I first read the script on the train and couldn't stop laughing out loud Â– everyone was staring! It's an incredibly funny piece of writing. Staging Becky Shaw for the Huntington feels like bringing the show home. This is a story that really has to be told in this city."
In Becky Shaw, newly-married Suzanna and Andrew set up Suzanna's lifelong best friend, the sharp-tongued money manager Max, with Andrew's romantically-challenged, seemingly fragile co-worker, Becky. Despite good intentions, the blind date goes so badly that it ends at a police station. As their friends attempt to navigate their way through a complex emotional jungle, Suzanna and Andrew are forced to confront the instability of their marriage, and Suzanna is thrown into further turmoil by her caustic mother Susan's clear-eyed observations about the family. The moral ground shifts time and time again as crisis and comedy ensue, and a series of events are set into motion that forever change everyone's lives. Amid the smart humor, Becky Shaw asks questions about money and class, the ethics of white-lying, and the transactional nature of human relationships as it makes us consider what we owe the people we love most versus the strangers who land on our doorstep.
"Gina has a surprising point of view on human nature, and she's shockingly honest about the way we all behave," says DuBois. "She actually puts the tapes that run silently through our minds into the mouths of her characters. She's got a very sharp, smart point of view on the world and wicked sense of humor."
"Peter and I have been friends and collaborators for over a decade," says Gionfriddo. "He's been with this play since the first draft Â– asking me all the right questions and pushing me to fully realize these characters and ideas. I'm thrilled he's bringing Becky Shaw to his artistic home, the Huntington."
Playwright Gina Gionfriddo was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Becky Shaw, which had its world premiere at Actors Theatre of Louisville's Humana Festival of New American Plays and its New York premiere Off Broadway at Second Stage Theatre. Her other plays include After Ashley (Humana Festival, Off Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre, regional theatres, and abroad in Poland); U.S. Drag (Off Broadway by the stageFARM, Clubbed Thumb at HERE, and many regional productions); Guinevere (Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center Playwrights Conference); and the one-acts Squalor and America's Got Tragedy (commissioned and presented by the stageFARM). She has received an OBIE Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, an Outer Critics Circle Award, the Helen Merrill Award for Emerging Playwrights, and an American Theatre Critics Association/Steinberg citation. She has written for the television programs "Law & Order," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," "Cold Case," and the upcoming "The Borgias." Ms. Gionfriddo has contributed essays on rock music to the literary journal, The Believer, and short fiction to Canteen. A graduate of the M.F.A. Playwriting Program at Brown University, she has taught writing at Brown, Providence College, and Rhode Island College. She is currently at work on commissions from Playwrights Horizons and the Center Theatre Group.
Director Peter DuBois is now in his second season as Artistic Director of the Huntington Theatre Company, during which he will also direct Craig Lucas' Prelude to a Kiss. During his inaugural season, he directed the world premiere of David Grimm's The Miracle at Naples. He directed the acclaimed world premiere (Actors Theater of Louisville, Humana Festival of New American Plays) and New York premiere (Second Stage Theatre) productions of Becky Shaw. Other directing credits include Bob Glaudini's Jack Goes Boating with Philip Seymour Hoffman (The New York Times Critics Pick) and A View from 151st Street (The New York Times Critics Pick), Measure for Pleasure (SSDF Callaway Award for Excellence in Direction; Drama League Award nomination), and Richard III with Peter Dinklage (a Newsday top ten New York production of 2004), and Biro (The New York Times Critics' Pick) for The Public Theater where he served as associate producer and resident director; Sam Shepard's Curse of the Starving Class for American Conservatory Theater; and The Seagull, The Winter's Tale, Romeo and Juliet, and more for Perseverance Theatre where he served as artistic director.
The Huntington's season of American stories is the first in the Company's 27-year history comprised entirely of shows by American writers. The plays of the season relate to one another through stories of opportunities lost and found, of intergenerational struggles and successes, and of the most intimate and meaningful relationships. Drawn from some of the best writing the country has to offer, the Huntington is engaging its audience in a season-long conversation about issues of race, class, values, and a shared American experience. "This season at the Huntington, we are taking on a range of compelling American writing," says DuBois. "Each production offers us a singular point of view about the American experience, and I'm very excited by the diverse perspectives these artists bring."
The cast of Becky Shaw includes:
* Maureen Anderman (The Sisters Rosenswieg, Rabbit Hole, and Third for the Huntington; plays by Edward Albee, Michael Frayn, Joan Didion, and others on Broadway) as Susan;
* Seth Fisher (Persephone and Les Liaisons Dangereuses for the Huntington; Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll and Julius Caesar on Broadway) as Max;
* Wendy Hoopes (Love, Janis for the Village Theatre, Vienna Lusthaus (Revisited) for New York Theatre Workshop; Walking Off the Roof for Signature Theatre Company) as Becky Shaw;
* Eli James (William and the Tradesmen at Ars Nova and Breedingground's Spring Fever Festival; The Four of Us at Manhattan Theatre Club) as Andrew; and
* Keira Naughton (The Rivals at Lincoln Center Theater; Dance of Death and Three Sisters at Roundabout Theatre Company) as Suzanna.
The Creative Team for Becky Shaw includes Scenic Designer Derek McLane (Bad Dates for the Huntington; Ragtime, 33 Variations, I Am My Own Wife on Broadway; Becky Shaw for Second Stage Theatre); Costume Designer Jeff Mahshie (Laughing Wild for the Huntington; The Little Dog Laughed and Next to Normal on Broadway; Becky Shaw for Second Stage Theatre); Lighting Designer David Weiner (Butley for the Huntington; Butley and Reasons to Be Pretty on Broadway; Becky Shaw for Second Stage Theatre); and Sound Designer Walter Trarbach (The Farnsworth Invention and Cymbeline on Broadway; Becky Shaw for Second Stage Theatre). Production Stage Manager is Lori Ann Zepp. Stage Manager is Carola Morrone.
New this season, the Huntington offers post-show audience conversations with members of the staff after most Tuesday-Friday, Saturday matinee, and Sunday matinee performances. Free with a ticket to the performance.
Friday, March 5, following the 8pm performance
"35 Below" Wrap Party
Join audience members aged 21-35 for a post-show party. Purchase $25 tickets online or through the Box Office.
Tuesday, March 9, 6:30pm (preceding the 7:30pm performance)
A pre-show conversation with playwright Gina Gionfriddo.
Thursday, March 11, following the 7:30pm performance
Out & About Club
Join GLBT audience members at a post-show party. Use code OUT to purchase discounted tickets to this performance online.
Sunday, March 21, following the 2pm performance
A lively post-show talk with a leading local scholar about the historical/literary context of the play.
American Stories Contest: Share your American Story
The Huntington Theatre Company's 2009-2010 Season features seven windows into the American experience by American writers, and is filled with American stories. Join us by sharing your American story and enter to win VIP tickets to each of our opening night performances and post-show cast parties throughout the season. Enter in either category: 18 and under or General. We'll name a winner from each per show, and a Grand Prize winner for the year.
Create a video or write an essay response to the following question Â– or simply tell us your American story. Send it with your name, address, and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org. All entries will be posted on the Huntington's blog and winners will be featured in our monthly e-newsletter.
Becky Shaw is an acerbic comedy about a blind date gone bad. Have you had an exceptionally bad (or exceptionally good!) first date? What made it memorable?