Friday, August 28, 2009

Jane Alexander, Stockard Channing Complete Westport Season Lineup

Jane Alexander and Stockard Channing will appear in Sir David Hare’s The Breath of Life at Westport Country Playhouse, Sept. 29 through Oct. 17. Mark Lamos, artistic director will direct. “The Breath of Life” will be the final production in the Playhouse’s six-play 2009 season.

“The Breath of Life” is a tale of two seasoned women, whose lives are interwoven through their relationship with a pivotal, yet offstage, male character, Martin. Madeleine Palmer, played by Ms. Alexander, is a retired curator, living alone on the Isle of Wight. One day to her door comes Frances Beale, played by Ms. Channing, a woman she has met only once, who is now enjoying sudden success, later in life, as a popular novelist. Over the course of one day and one night, the two women reflect on their lives and their relationship with Martin, their joint obsession.

Jane Alexander received a Tony Award for Broadway’s “The Great White Hope,” and Tony Award nominations for “Honour,” “The Sisters Rosensweig,” “The Visit,” “First Monday in October,” “Find Your Way Home” and “6 Rms Riv Vu.” She also received a Drama Desk and Theatre World Award for “The Great White Hope” and an Obie for “The Sisters Rosensweig.” She is a four-time Oscar nominee for the films “Testament,” “Kramer vs. Kramer,” “All the President’s Men” and “The Great White Hope.” On television, she won an Emmy Award for the movie “Playing for Time” and a Television Critic’s Circle Award for her portrayal of Eleanor Roosevelt in “Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years.”

She received a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for Showtime’s "Carry Me Home," directed by her son Jace Alexander. She received the Emmy Award for “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie” for her portrayal of “Sara Roosevelt” in HBO’s “Warm Springs.” Ms. Alexander is the author of “Command Performance: An Actress in the Theater of Politics,” documenting her tenure as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts from 1993-1997.

Stockard Channing’s extensive theatre credits include “Joe Egg” (Tony Award, Drama Desk nomination), “Hapgood” (Drama Desk nomination), “Love Letters” (original cast), “Woman in Mind” (Drama Desk Award), “The Rink,” “The Golden Age,” “They're Playing Our Song,” “Little Foxes,” and her work in “The Lion in Winter,” “House of Blue Leaves” (Drama Desk nomination), “Four Baboons Adoring the Sun,” and “Six Degrees of Separation” (Drama Desk nomination) earned her four Tony Award nominations. For “Six Degrees...” she received an Obie Award and Drama League Award for Performance of the Year as well as an Olivier Award nomination when she performed the play in London.

When she recreated her “Six Degrees...” role for film, she was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe. Other film credits include “Bright Young Things,” “Must Love Dogs,” “The Business of Strangers” (AFI Film Award nomination), “Where the Heart Is,” “Practical Magic,” “Twilight,” “The First Wives' Club,” “Smoke” (SAG nomination), “Moll Flanders,” “Heartburn,” “Grease” (People's Choice Award), “Isn't She Great?” and the upcoming “Sparkle,” and “Multiple Sarcasms.” In 2002, Ms. Channing won two Emmy Awards for her roles as First Lady Abby Bartlet on NBC’s “The West Wing,” and for the role of Judy Shepard in “The Matthew Shepard Story,” for which she also received a Screen Actors Guild Award. She received a 2005 Daytime Emmy Award for her role in “Jack.”

The production team includes Michael Yeargan (Tony and Drama Desk Awards for “South Pacific”), set design; Robert Wierzel (Connecticut Critics Circle Award for Westport Country Playhouse’s “Of Mice and Men”), lighting design; Greg Hennigan, original music and sound design; Elizabeth Smith, dialect consultant; Janet Foster, C.S.A., casting; and Lloyd Davis, Jr., production stage manager.

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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