Director Sandra Zielinski will hold auditions tonight and tomorrow night for three roles in Heartland Theatre's production of Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz, scheduled for performance in Feburary 2014.
Heartland has produced Baitz before, with A Fair Country in 2002 and Three Hotels back in 1997. Baitz's work often delves into family dysfunction and political and ethical conflicts among family members, an excellent match for an intimate space like Heartland where you can see all the characters up close.
A Fair Country and Other Desert Cities were both finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, with the 2011-12 Broadway production of Other Desert Cities also nominated for five Tony Awards. Judith Light won the Tony for Best Performance by an Actress in Featured Role in a play for her role as Silda Grauman, a warm and funny woman who also happens to be a bit of a mess. Silda depends on the financial support of her wealthy sister, Polly Wyeth, even though they have diametrically opposed views of the world. That's where Baitz's skill with fully drawn characters comes into play -- everybody has shades of gray, good and bad, no matter which side of the political or social divide they fall on.
Polly and Silda are two of the characters Zielinski will be looking to cast at these auditions. The third is Lyman Wyeth, Polly's statesman of a husband, a former ambassador with all the right connections in all the right places even though he is officially retired from politics. On Broadway, Stacy Keach played Lyman, while Stockard Channing took on Polly, his sharp, polished, perfect-on-the-outside wife.
The other roles in the play are the two Wyeth children, novelist Brooke, who has come home carrying a tell-all memoir that divulges her side of family secrets, and TV producer Trip, who tries hard not to take sides in the family wars. Those roles have been cast, but their presence as characters is key to understanding how their parents and Aunt Silda operate within the context of the play. It's Brooke's arrival with her time-bomb of a book that sets everything in motion in Other Desert Cities. Rachel Griffiths played Brooke on Broadway, while Thomas Sadoski, recently seen in HBO's The Newsroom, played Trip.
For all the details on Polly, Lyman and Silda, click here to see Heartland's audition notice. Auditions will be held from 7 to 9:30 pm at Heartland Theatre tonight and tomorrow, November 24 and 25. Actors will be asked to read from the script, with no prepared monologues necessary.
Performances dates are February 20 to March 9, 2014.