Friday, June 13, 2008

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Reviews Are In!

The critics have spoken...Edward Albee's Occupant is a hit! Here's a sampling of what they had to say about the show, which has now been extended through July 13th:

"A touchingly modest tribute to one of the most important American sculptors of the 20th century. Occupant bows its head in awe and gratitude before the mysterious force of will that allows great artists to be. Louise Nevelson is reincarnated with disarming casualness and unimpeachable conviction by Mercedes Ruehl. ‘The Man’ is played by Mr. Bryggman with a fine mix of academic fatuity and true insight."
– Ben Brantley, The New York Times

"It's riveting. Put it on your must-see list immediately..”
– Jacques le Sourd, The Journal News

“A fanciful, fascinating meditation on not only Nevelson, but on the cult of celebrity and the impossibility of ever really knowing if you are getting the truth about a famous person or not.”
– Michael Kuchwara, Associated Press

“A fascinating addition to the playwright's body of work that climaxes in a moment of vivid self-revelation. Mercedes Ruehl is transfixing. She loses herself in a full-immersion inhabitation of the flamboyant Nevelson”
– David Rooney, Variety

"MERCEDES RULES. She commands the stage and delivers Nevelson’s stories with humor and gusto."
– Malcolm Johnson, Hartford Courant

To purchase tickets to Edward Albee's Occupant click here or call 212-244-PLAY.

Opening Albee

Posted by Liza Witmer, Company Management Intern

As I clutched my handful of opening night presents to my chest and watched our small lobby quickly fill to capacity with smiling faces, I couldn’t help grinning myself at the exciting situation for which I was privileged enough to be present. Yes, folks…opening night finally arrived for Edward Albee’s Occupant, our legacy (and final) production in Signature’s 2007-2008s Mee season.

Members of our staff rushed around, making sure everything looked beautiful and that everyone would feel welcome and comfortable. My fellow intern Louisa and I tracked down designers and other people affiliated with the show to congratulate them and give them their mighty cute gifts of Louise Nevelson note cards. It was simply amazing to see my fellow coworkers come together and produce the well-oiled machine that our opening night became.

Our audience was star studded to the max. A quick sweep of the house revealed the man-of-the-hour Edward Albee; Signature alumni Lois Smith, Dallas Roberts, Lanford Wilson, and Charles Mee; a few cast members from our upcoming production The First Breeze of Summer; and Louise Nevelson’s granddaughter Maria. We were able to start fairly close to the intended curtain time (well-oiled machine, I tell ya) and Jim Houghton gave a beautiful speech to thank all of our supporters and guests.

The show was, as always, both funny and moving. Both Mercedes Ruehl and Larry Bryggman were incredibly perceptive and masterful at their craft, as per usual, but carried with them a certain extra spark which pleased the audience greatly. As Louise Nevelson’s facsimile retold the highs and lows of her life, the audience reacted with heartfelt compassion and empathy. It was truly an incredible piece of theatre and I am so glad I was able to see it on this special occasion.

The performance was followed by a fun filled after-party at West Bank Café, just a few blocks from the theatre. When I walked in, pictures were being taken of the actors, director, playwright and everyone in between. I thought I’d stumbled upon an unseen red carpet! Everyone was rewarded for their hard work with some serious R & R in the form good food, good drinks and good company. My personal favorites were the little chocolate mousse cake cubes for dessert!

I looked around the restaurant and realized what an amazing family I’ve recently joined. Signature has not only made me feel at home in my brand new internship but also produced such a glorious work of art that brought everyone together in a triumphant opening night celebration!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Talking Back With Edward Albee

Posted by Chris Bannow, Marketing Intern, 3 June 2008

At age 80, Edward Albee retorts and spars with the tenacious spunk of a collegiate know-it-all, showing no signs of ever appeasing his relentless attack on tomorrow’s theatre. How do I know this after only one day as the new Marketing intern at Signature Theatre Company? Well…

Signature’s mission of producing fully staged works by playwrights-in-residence requires a devout relationship between artist and host, and to this end the company has created the means by which intimate and productive relationships are formed between the writer and the theatre for which he writes. Our code name for this event: Staff Talkback. 14 Staff Members, 1 Playwright, only about 10 chairs, and an even playing field with room for questions one could only ask in such an environment.

May 19th was Signature’s Staff Talkback with Edward Albee on his current play Occupant, and what we learned could have never been attained from the run-of-the-mill New York newspaper interview.

As we filed into the room, notepads and questions in hand and mind, we were met with Mr. Albee, sitting rather casually, eased back in his chair as if getting ready to watch his play rather than talk about it.

My fantasized construction of the Pulitzer/Tony/Drama Desk-Award Winning Playwright was shattered with the comfortably dressed, white-haired man sitting before me. Is this really the guy who wrote Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Yes. Yes it is.

For the next 40 minutes we sat, leaning on ledges, as Artistic Director Jim Houghton and his Associate Beth Whitaker led us through a plethora of questions and points of interest on Occupant. Whether it was plot, Pam MacKinnon, Mercedes Ruehl, and Larry Bryggman (the director and company of actors), a career in theatre, an artists’ inspiration, or the real-life relationship between himself and Louise Nevelson, Edward was quick to divulge stories and fearless in his blunt depiction of all the nitty gritty details. He ushered us through his fascinating history, and painted Occupant both as a furnished play and as a clockwork composed of quotes, conversations, and fabrications all deriving from the actual Louise Nevelson.

Before I knew it time was up, and we said our thank you’s and goodbyes as we departed from the entity that is Edward Albee to head back to our desks and computers. My first day at an award-winning Off-Broadway theatre, already an exciting event, was made all the more exciting by meeting with an award-winning, nationally renowned playwright. Signature cares as much about its staff as it does its audience, and I am excited to be a part of this family.