Terrence McNally’s new play Golden Age, which just had its successful debut at Philadelphia Theatre Company, opens March 12th in the Kennedy Center’s Family Theatre with new rewrites and a new director (Walter Bobbie, replacing Austin Pendleton, who is directing Bus Stop now at Olney Theatre Center).
Actor Marc Kudisch takes us on the journey of this new play – from workshops to rewrites to the debut in Philadelphia, to more rewrites with a new director, and finally to the Kennedy Center.
The play takes us to opening night, 1835, for Vincenzo Bellini’s new opera, I Puritani, at the Paris Opera, with the four greatest singers in Europe – Giovanni Battista Rubini, the tenor, Giulia Grisi, the soprano, Luigi La Blache, the bass, and Antonio Tamburini, the baritone (played by Marc).
We are in the wings with the performers as the opera is performed offstage. “I know it’s a piece that takes place in 1835, but it is not a period piece!”, Marc tells us. “It is such a contemporary play. The conversations are the same conversations we as performers and composers have every day, and they are so recognizable, I know the audiences are going to laugh hysterically. It’s the same stuff we ask today… ‘What am I doing here?’ ‘What the hell is my life about? ‘ ‘I like it. Does that mean that they will like it?’ ‘Does it matter if they like it’? He (Bellini) is asking the ultimate question – ‘What makes me happy? What makes anyone happy at the end of the day?’ To me, this is Terrence’s most personal play. All the cards are on the table.”
Marc is a huge fan of the work of Terrence McNally. “I believe he is the last in a line of playwrights like Lanford Wilson, Tennessee Williams, and even (David) Mamet in his own way… With Terrence, you know it’s Terrence… There’s a music. There’s a lyricism. There’s an esotericism to it. There’s a Terrence-ism”.
Why should DC theatergoers come to see Golden Age? “Because it’s a new play by Terrence McNally! And you should come see all three plays, Golden Age, and his earlier The Lisbon Traviata, and Master Class, on which, of course, Terrence is doing re-writes!”
For more information about the Kennedy Center production, and to purchase tickets, click here.
Joel also got to talk with Marc about the status of the revival of The Unsinkable Molly Brown and his next show, Ricky Ian Gordon’s production of Sycamore Trees at Signature Theatre, beginning May 18th. We’re saving that podcast for another day.
View the Golden Age study guide from the Philadelphia Theatre Company’s production of Golden Age here.
More podcasts with Marc Kudisch by Joel Markowitz: