Thursday, September 21, 2006

Itching to Open in New York

Itching to Open in New York

Playwright Bruce Norris' black social comedy The Pain And The Itch -- which had its world premiere a year ago at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre -- will enjoy its official New York debut tonight at the Playwrights Horizons' Mainstage Theatre. The play won the Jefferson Award for Best New York in 2005, the highest honor for new plays in Chicago.

Norris is renowned for taking audiences on breathtaking journeys things are never what they seem. I've marveled at his excellent works, including Purple Heart and The Unmentionables. While I didn't feel The Pain And The Itch was of quite the same caliber when I saw it during its original run in Chicago, it was primarily because I believed one of the leads was not up to the arduous task of heading the play's highly dysfunctional family. Thankfully, in the New York incarnation, he has been replaced by the wonderfully creepy Christopher Evan Welch, whom I first saw in Purple Heart in 2002.

If I had to give you two words for seeing this show, they'd be: Jayne Houdyshell, who is absolutely brilliant as the grandmother afraid to confront potential abuse issues surrounding her granddaughter. Houdyshell is so believable in this role that she was awarded Chicago's Jefferson Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play.

As in Chicago, the play is helmed by Anna D. Shapiro. New York performances run through October 8. Will the critics take to this show that ultimately hinges on affluent white guilt? We'll find out tomorrow.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
Houdyshell Itching to Reprise Steppenwolf Role Off-Broadway (July 11, 2006)
The Pain And The Itch Slated for New York Run (June 7, 2006)
Flashback: Best of 2002-03 (May 24, 2006)

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