Vineyard Playhouse artistic director M.J. Bruder Munafo kicks off the theater’s popular summer series of new work — the Monday Night Special — with Expatriate, a new play by Bill C. Davis and starring Tony award-winning actress Frances Sternhagen.
The staged reading of Expatriate, directed by Mr. Davis, will be held on Monday, June 30 at 7 p.m. at the Vineyard Playhouse, 24 Church street in downtown Vineyard Haven.
Bill C. Davis is the author of Mass Appeal, which premiered at the Manhattan Theatre Club in 1980, directed by Geraldine Fitzgerald, and starring Milo O’Shea and Eric Roberts. The play moved to Broadway where it received the Outer Critic’s Circle Award. Mr. Davis adapted the play as a screenplay and it was made into a movie starring Jack Lemmon and Charles Durning. Other plays by Bill C. Davis include Dancing in the End-Zone and Wrestlers, among others. His new play, Expatriate, has received three other developmental readings in addition to this one at the Vineyard Playhouse — with Julie Harris, Maureen Stapleton and Rosemary Murphy.
The story in Expatriate involves Kemper’s grandmother, Muddy (Miss Sternhagen), who runs away from her home and her husband on Cape Cod after a disastrous family Thanksgiving. She arrives at Kemper’s country home to discover that Kemper (Brian Hutchison), her favorite relative, is planning to leave the country. A recent breakup, the result of election 2004 and the war have pushed Kemper over the edge. Muddy however is a resolute American and is furious with her beloved grandson for even considering the unthinkable. Kenneth (Paul O’Brien), Kemper’s father — Muddy’s son — arrives to usher his mother back to the Cape and to her husband. Rather than dealing with her marital crisis she enlists her son, a Vietnam vet, to help convince Kemper to stay in America. Secrets, lost loves, strained loyalties — all contribute to the sparks that fly as Kemper insists that another country is his destiny.
Frances Sternhagen’s long career includes Broadway, film and television. She won the Tony Award in 1974 for The Good Doctor and in 1995 for The Heiress and a Drama Desk award in 1975 for Equus. Most recently, she was seen in Seascape on Broadway. Her television credits include The Closer, ER, Becker, Sex and the City and others; her film credits are many and varied including The Mist and The Laramie Project. Joining Miss Sternhagen in the reading are Paul O’Brien (who has appeared in several Broadway productions and at the Playhouse in Proof and The Retreat From Moscow) and Brian Hutchison (The Invention of Love on Broadway) with Jill Macy reading stage directions.
Tickets are $45 reserved seating. Advance ticket purchase is recommended as these evenings tend to sell out. Rush tickets at $25 cash only will be sold at the box office on the night of the reading only if seats are still available at 6:50 p.m. To purchase tickets, call the Vineyard Playhouse box office at 508-696-6300 or visit the Web site vineyardplayhouse.org.
The Monday Night Special series is sponsored by the Liman Foundation and Caroline Sharp. The reading begins at 7 p.m. and will be followed by a question and answer period between the author, actors and audience, and then an informal reception downstairs in the lobby. The theater is fully accessible and air-conditioned.