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The City of Conversation

The City of Conversation is playing at the Mitzi Newhouse Lincoln Center located at 150 West 65th Street.  It runs one hour and fifty minutes. The play closes on June 22, 2014.

This is the world premiere of this play.

Dough Hughes is the director.  He won a Tony Award for “Doubt” in 2005.

Catherine Zuber is the costume designer.  Catherine has won five Tony Awards for “The Royal Family” (2010), “The Coast of Utopia” (2007), “Awake and Sing!” (2006)  and “The Light in the Piazza” (2005). She has been nominated for five Tony Awards for “How to Succeed in Business Without Trying” (2011), “Born Yesterday” (2011), “Edwards Albee’s Seascape” (2006), “Dinner at Eight” (2003) and “Twelfth Night” (1999).

John Lee Beatty is the scenic designer.  He won a Tony Award for “the Nance” (2013) and Talley’s Folly” (1979).   John Lee has been nominated for eleven other Tony Awards, among them are “Other Desert Cities” (2011), “The Royal Family” (2010) and “The Color Purple” (2006). He has won a Drama Desk Award for “Twentieth Century” (2004), “Dinner for Eight” (2003), “Fifth of July” (1981) and “Talley’s Folly” (1979).  John Lee was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in January 2013.

Jan Maxwell has been nominated for five Tony Awards for “Follies” (2011), “Lend Me a Tenor” and “The Royal Family” (2010), “Coram Boy” (2007), and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (2005).  She is only the fourth actress to receive double nominations in a single year.  Jan won a Drama Desk Award for “The Royal Family” (2010).

John Aylward is best known for his role as Barry Goodwin in “The West Wing”.

The time is from 1979-2009; the place is the living room of a townhouse in Georgetown, Washington D. C.

Hester Ferris (Jan Maxwell) is a political activist.  She holds parties in her home.  Act I takes place when Jimmy Carter is president.

Her son Colin (Michael Simpson) comes to visit her with his girlfriend Anna Fitzgerald (Kristen Bush). Hester invites them to the party she is having that evening. Anna wears the dress Hester has lent her. Hester is not too thrilled with her and tells her not to voice her political opinions.

George Mallonee (John Alywood) and his wife Carolyn (Barbara Garrick) are from Kentucky.

The other guest is Chandler Harris (Kevin O”Rourke).

Anna engages in a heated debate with George.

Act II we hear Ronald Reagan's voice.   It’s been eight years since we have seen Hester. She loves watching her grandson who is six years old.  Still active, she is the middle of proof reading a letter her sister Jean Swift (Beth Dixon) has typed.  She is trying to block a politician from being appointed judge.

He daughter in law Anna tells her not to go thru with the publishing the letter.  It will affect her husband.  Hester refuses so Anna shows Colin the letter.  He threatens her if she does go thru with it she will never see her grandson again.

Lights go out and we hear Barrack Obama's voice.   It is now twenty years later.  Her grandson is now twenty six.  Ethan has come to visit her with his partner Donald Logan (Philip James Brannon). He is a teacher in the Bronx and Donald is getting his graduate degree in politics.  Donald wants to read Hester letters.

Fences are hopefully mended.   Hester asks Ethan if he will marry his partner.  He says yes. She replies if I didn’t  back the people I did in the past you would not have been able to do so. He tells her his father has remarried but still does not forgive her.

Hester and Jean have been invited to the inaugural ball and they decide to go with her grandson and Donald. Leaving in a fur coat arm in arm the play ends.

The set is great.

This is a touching story of a family pulled apart by their political beliefs. But was it worth it and at what price.  The story makes you think.

Jan Maxwell does an excellent job.  Her range from a feisty woman to an elder that can barely move is so believable. 

Michael Simpson and Kristen Bush work well together.

The rest of the cast members hold their own for the short period they are on the stage.

Review by Rozanna Radakovich

Photos by Annazor.

To read a candid interview with the cast, scroll down to the left for recent photos.  Click on recent photos for this and others shows.

 

 

 

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