Redgrave's 'Shakespeare' set to open
Updated 1:38 pm, Thursday, September 8, 2011
TheatreWorks New Milford will open its production of the late Lynn Redgrave's playwriting debut, "Shakespeare for My Father," Sept. 16 at 8 p.m.
The show will be presented Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. through Oct. 8 and also Oct. 2 at 2 p.m.
The production is being staged with assistance from Ms. Redgrave's family, including her son Ben Clark, daughter Annabel Clark and daughter-in-law Neva.
A longtime Kent resident, Ms. Redgrave wrote the play in 1993. She died in 2010.
The autobiographical one-woman tale of Ms. Redgrave's memories has been crafted into a portrait of a child's longing for the love of Sir Michael Redgrave, the Shakespearean actor who was her father.
"Shakespeare for My Father" opened at the Helen Hayes Theatre on Broadway on April 26, 1993.
The New York Post called the play "an enormously entertaining biographical voyage."
The local play is under the direction of Jane Farnol of Gaylordsville, who had become well acquainted with the renowned actress the past few years.
"We both lived in Kent at the time, we're both English, and she adored my mum," Ms. Farnol said, noting some of the things she had in common with Ms. Redgrave.
"I recall a time when Lynn and I went to see `Guys and Dolls' at New Milford High School and she leaned over to me and said, `This was Dad's favorite song,' " Ms. Farnol said.
"It fascinates me, because here we are mounting the first play she ever wrote, and Susan Pettibone, who's doing an outstanding job portraying Lynn, speaks of Sir Michael Redgrave's love of American musicals in the play," Ms. Farnol said, "I get goose bumps thinking about it."
"When I first knew I was going to be playing Lynn Redgrave, I was very nervous and considered it a daunting task," Ms. Pettibone said.
"What's made it so incredibly special is working with Jane (Farnol)... she has such insight and is such a wonderful director, plus she knew Lynn personally," the New Milford actress said.
"So needless to say, I was honored she chose me for this part," Ms. Pettibone said. "The more I delve into the character of Ms. Redgrave, my respect for Lynn as a person and an actress reaches new heights. It's been a very moving experience."
Ms. Redgrave's children have retrieved vintage photographs of the Redgrave family for the production.
Also, the Clark/Redgrave family provided TheatreWorks with the original chair Ms. Redgrave herself used on Broadway along with the show's original music that was used when her play debuted there in 1993.
"The whole family has been ever so supportive," Ms. Farnol said. "We had initially played around with lots of different ideas on how to execute Lynn's story ... and the family was fine with that. But in the end I told Ben (Clark) we'd gone back to his Mum's basic wonderful play.
"We're so proud to be producing her show in her memory. Lynn impacted so many people's lives, including mine."
In addition to Ms. Farnol and Ms. Pettibone, who both designed the show's set, the show's crew includes producer and lighting designer Richard Pettibone, sound designer Tom Libonate and stage manager Sonnie Osborne.
Tickets are $20. A pay-what-you-can night will be held Sept. 22 at 8 p.m.
Seniors are invited to a free preview Sept. 15 at 8 p.m.
Theater parking is located behind the Catherine E. Lillis Building off East Street.
-- Deborah Rose
For more information and reservations, call 860-350-6863 or visit www.theatreworks.us.