Stagenotes: August 2005

Tom Murrin

Multiple Tony Award winning playwright Terrence McNally, who had a hit revival last year with Frankie And Johnnie in the Claire De Lune, debuts his newest, Dedication or the Stuff of Dreams, starring two of Broadway's most charismatic actors: Marian Seldes and Nathan Lane. Seldes, who has earned numerous awards in her glorious career, plays Annabelle Willard, the owner of a grand, but abandoned, theater in a town that, she hints, "might be in upper New York State." Lane plays, Lou Nuncle, who, along with his wife Jessie, produces a struggling children's theater. "They, the Nuncles, are in love with my beautiful theater, and they would love to have it," says Seldes. "At the start, it's an impossible dream, and in the play we find out what happens."

In describing her character, Seldes says, "She owns the town, she's immensely controlling and wealthy, but she's lonely and alone. She has almost nothing she loves in her life except this theater." A sub-plot involves Jessie's daughter (played by Darren Pettie), who is a very successful rock star; she and her boyfriend visit the town, a stop on her US tour. One of the play's ironies is that the daughter is successful enough to play in a large arena, while her mother and stepfather are struggling to get a venue suitable for their children's theater. Asked if it has a "happy ending." Seldes intriguingly replied, 'In a way.'"

Primary Stages at 59E59 Theaters, 59 E. 59th St., (212) 279-4200. Previews July 26, opens Sept. 18. Tues., 7 p.m.; Wed. & Sat., 8 p.m.; mats., Sat., 2 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m. $60.

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