Masterson Makes UK Debut in Spacey's AnthemsDate: 28 October 2004
American stage and screen actress Mary Stuart Masterson (pictured) will make her London theatre debut in the British premiere of Dennis McIntyre’s 1988 drama National Anthems. The three-hander runs from 8 February to 23 April 2005 (previews from 1 February) at the West End’s Old Vic, where Masterson will play opposite Hollywood actor-turned-artistic director Kevin Spacey and Broadway’s Steven Weber.
Played in real-time, National Anthems is described as a “searing critique of suburban America and a hard-hitting parable about the American dream”. Arthur and Leslie Reed are clearing up after a house-warming parties when Ben Cook arrives unannounced and a clash ensues between the affluent and aspirant couple and their new blue-collar neighbour.
McIntyre’s play was first produced at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut and at the GeVa Theater in Rochester, New York, and later staged at the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, Connecticut, where Arvin Brown directed Spacey, Tom Berenger and Mary McDonnell.
At a press conference held earlier this year (See News, 22 Apr 2004), Spacey, who revives the role of Ben Cook in this production, explained why he wanted to star in it again 15 years later: “I felt I never got as full a crack at it as I would have liked.” The production will mark Spacey’s acting debut as artistic director. He directed the inaugural production, the UK premiere of Maria Goos’ Cloaca which runs until 11 December 2004, ahead of Christmas pantomime Aladdin, running 17 December to 22 January 2005 and starring Ian McKellen, Roger Allam and Maureen Lipman.
Masterson, who plays Leslie Reed, appeared on Broadway last year opposite Antonia Banderas in Nine, for which she received Tony, Outer Critics’ Circle and Drama Desk nominations, as well as a World Theatre Award. She’s best known for her screen credits including Fried Green Tomatoes, Benny and Joon, Some Kind of Wonderful, Radioland Murders, Bad Girls and The Stepford Wives.
Weber, who plays Arthur Reed, has appeared on Broadway in Loot, The Real Thing and as Leo Bloom in The Producers. His US film and television credits include Leaving Las Vegas, Single White Female, Hamburger Hill, Wings, The Shining and Reefer Madness.
Detroit-born McIntyre, who died in 1989, also the plays Split Second, Established Price and Modigliani, staged on Broadway in 1980 and in London in 1987. The Old Vic considered updating the text of National Anthems, set in the late 1980s in Detroit, but decided against it because, according to Spacey, they found that it’s now much “more powerful as a period piece.”
The new production will be directed by Briton David Grindley, who’s received acclaim for his recent revivals of two other period pieces, Mike Leigh’s 1970s social satire Abigail’s Party and, still playing in the West End, RC Sheriff’s First World War drama Journey’s End. It’s designed by Jonathan Fensom, with lighting by Jason Taylor and sound by Gregory Taylor.
- by Terri Paddock