Heartland Theatre and director Sandra Zielinski have announced who will be whom when they present Jon Robin Baitz's dysfunctional family drama Other Desert Cities in February.
Other Desert Cities involves the wealthy Wyeths of Palm Springs, California, a family that enjoys access to the highest levels of American society. In their heyday, they dined at the White House and hobnobbed with Ron and Nancy Reagan. Patriarch Lyman Wyeth, an actor turned ambassador, probably went shooting for big game with Dick Cheney at one time or another, while his whip-smart wife Polly, who once wrote for a hit television show with her counterculture sister Silda, no doubt enjoyed cocktails with Charlton Heston on the way to the Golden Globes. On the outside, theirs looks like a charmed life.
But they have their secrets. And daughter Brooke, a writer getting over a breakdown, decides what she needs most in the world is to air her version of one of those secrets. When she comes home with the tell-all book she’s written about that particular, devastating incident in their past, push comes to shove in the wake of truth and lies and simmering conflict between parents and children, siblings, and political ideals.
The Broadway production of Other Desert Cities was nominated for five Tony Awards, winning Judith Light the first of two awards in the Best Featured Actress category. Her role as Silda, the sister who can't quite pull it together, earned her a Drama Desk as well as that Tony. Baitz was also nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the play.
For Heartland, Connie de Veer, an Illinois State University professor who last appeared in Sirens and The Trip to Bountiful at Heartland, will play Polly Wyeth, with Joe Penrod, recently seen as Fredrick Egerman in A Little Night Music for Prairie Fire, as her husband Lyman. Carol Scott, who played Aunt Abby in Arsenic and Old Lace at Community Players back in September and took on memorable roles in Doubt, Woman in Mind and The Beauty Queen of Lenane at Heartland, will play Polly's sister Silda.
Polly and Lyman's daughter Brooke, the one who stirs up the hornet's nest, will be portrayed by Jessie Swiech, an ISU grad who appeared in The Women of Lockerbie, Julius Caesar and Major Barbara. MFA actor Joey Banks, who appeared in Spring Awakening to open ISU's fall season, will play Brooke's younger brother Tripp, someone who seems at times to be the only grounded member of the Wyeth family.
Heartland's production of this fierce, funny play will open with a Pay What You Can preview on February 20, 2014, followed by performances from February 21 through March 9th. For showtimes, click here. For reservation information, click here.