I was watching the NBC sitcom “Working” tonight, and saw Harry Groener guest-starring on the show as the Vice-President of Upton-Webber, the fictional company the show is centered around.
I thought that was cool because I was just sitting next to Harry a couple of hours ago. He’s one of the cast members for The Hollow Lands, which is getting ready for a staged reading in two days. I’m a big fan of Harry’s. He starred in the hit Broadway musical Crazy For You for its entire run. I was fortunate enough to see his performance, and the boy can sing and dance like it ain’t nobody’s business. Of course, he was also one of stars of the original Broadway production of Cats (can’t say I ever saw that one), among other shows. The best part is that he’s a genuinely funny, likeable and down-to-earth guy. He says the funniest things in rehearsals.
Working on The Hollow Lands has been great. The script is mammoth in scope and size; it reminds me of The Kentucky Cycle, but with a bit of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales thrown in. I’m constantly amazed by Howard Korder, the playwright, and his seemingly limitless knowledge of 19th-century American history. The dramaturg on this production is Amy Freed, whose play Freedomland was produced by SCR last season and was a finalist for the 1997 Pulitzer Prize in Drama. I am truly not worthy.
Anthony Clarvoe, who’s play Pick Up Ax I just produced and acted in, is also at the festival. His latest play, Walking Off the Roof, is receiving a workshop production. I met Clarvoe briefly the other day; I was in the production office at SCR, and this guy was sitting on the floor cross-legged with a printer cable in one hand and a laptop computer in the other. I think he was trying to get it to print or something like that. When I finally realized who he was, I couldn’t help but smile at the thought of his struggling with a computer. Does life imitate art? Survey says: yes.
This is the inaugural year for the Pacific Playwrights Festival. There are something like six or seven new scripts receiving readings or workshops during the week, and I’m glad to be a part of it. I’m willing to bet that a hundred years from now, when people look back at the “great American plays” of our time, more than a few will have come from South Coast Repertory.