I finally met A.R. (Pete) Gurney in 2000 when he graciously waived the royalties on his beautiful play LOVE LETTERS so that the newly minted board of the Playhouse could do one of its first fundraisers, with Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman playing Melissa Gardner & Andrew Makepeace Ladd, III. It was early days, and all hands on deck. I was busy driving around Fairfield looking for a refectory table, some dictionary stands and some appropriate chairs for the event and then I stage managed it. The meeting was brief, probably a hand shake and a thank you, but it began a lovely friendship with one of the dearest theatre professionals one would ever want to meet. The Playhouse had already had a long association with Pete Gurney by the time we did that legendary Gala. Pete often credits the Playhouse with keeping him alive in the 80’s. I did my first season as resident stage manager in 1976 and Pete did his first show here in 1980. Before writing this post, I checked the number of Gurney plays done since that first production of CHILDREN. The grand total if you count this season’s LOVE AND MONEY is 15! I saw them all, and worked on four of them.
|Ancestral Voices, 2000|
When in 2011 Pete had done some more work on a play of his called THE GOLDEN AGE, he came to the Playhouse to see if we would do a reading of his updated version so he could hear his changes with an audience. Of course we agreed and had a great time working with our dear friends Richard Thomas, Frances Sternhagen and the very funny Kathleen McNenny. And of course one of our all-time Gurney favorites was THE DINING ROOM, most recently produced in our 2013 season.
We are so excited to be doing the world premiere of LOVE AND MONEY before it goes to Signature Theatre in the fall with our cast and artistic team. Our next Gurney adventure! And the best part is that Pete will be around – a lot!
It is our great good fortune to have A.R. Gurney as a supporter. He is generous with his time, he attends our performances regularly and was our Gala Honoree last year. Pete and the Playhouse – a mutual admiration society – Long may it continue.
|Annie with cast of |
The Golden Age, 2011
|The Dining Room, 2013|
Sylvia – Edmond Genest, Stephanie Zimbalist. Photo by Jayson Byrd
Ancestral Voices (Company B) – James Naughton, Joanne Woodward, Paul Rudd, Paul Newman, Swoosie Kurtz. Photo by Jayson Byrd
The Golden Age - Seated (l-r) Kathleen McNenny, Frances Sternhagen, Richard Thomas. Standing (l-r) Anne Keefe, curator, John Tillinger, director, Kim Furano, stage directions. Photo by Dave Matlow
The Dining Room - Clockwise, from left: Keira Naughton, Charles Socarides, Heidi Armbruster, Chris Henry Coffey, Jake Robards, and Jennifer Van Dyck. Photo by Carol Rosegg