`Salesman' will never die

Theater

Robust: Arthur Miller's Pulitzer Prize-winning play `Death of a Salesman' keeps on living, even 50 years after its first performance.

February 08, 1999|By J. Wynn Rousuck | J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC

Arthur Miller's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, "Death of a Salesman," turns 50 on Wednesday. The occasion will be marked by the opening of a new Broadway revival, as well as the release of an anniversary edition of the script, published by Penguin Books, with a new preface by the playwright. Here are some "Salesman" facts and figures: Miller wrote the first act in one day and the second in six weeks.

He subtitled the play: "Certain Private Conversations in Two Acts and a Requiem."

The play opened at Broadway's Morosco Theatre on Feb. 10, 1949, and ran for 742 performances.

It won the Tony Award, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

Although Willy Loman may not have been a successful salesman, 11 million copies of the play about him have been sold.

Miller originally considered calling the play "The Inside of His Head" and staging it on a floor cut out in the shape of a man's head.

The original production starred Lee J. Cobb, Baltimore native Mildred Dunnock and Arthur Kennedy and was directed by Elia Kazan.

Dunnock repeated her role in the 1951 movie, but the role of Willy Loman went to Frederic March, and the son, Biff, was played by Kevin McCarthy.

The 50th anniversary cast stars Brian Dennehy, Elizabeth Franz and Kevin Anderson and is directed by Robert Falls, artistic director of Chicago's Goodman Theatre, where the production originated.

Other notable Broadway revivals have included a 1975 production starring George C. Scott, Teresa Wright and James Farentino, and a 1984 production starring Dustin Hoffman, Kate Reid and John Malkovich, which was later filmed for television.

In 1983, Miller directed a production in China, which he and his third wife, photographer Inge Morath, documented in the book, " `Salesman' in Beijing."

The new Broadway revival has one local connection. Lighting designer Michael Philippi has lived in Baltimore since 1993.

Look out! Runaway `Jitney'

In my review of Center Stage's production of "Jitney," I predicted the show would be the runaway hit of the theater's season.

Seems I underestimated.

Last Thursday, the August Wilson play broke the Center Stage record for single-ticket sales.

By midday, the show had sold $188,143.50 in single tickets (not including subscription sales), surpassing the previous record holder, last season's "H.M.S. Pinafore," by more than $2,000.

And, there are 16 performances yet to go.

Tickets are still available, especially for the final week, Feb. 16-24, which was added by popular demand.

Call 410-332-0033. Or, tickets can be purchased on Center Stage's Web site, http: //www.cen terstage.org.

Learn to `bring in 'da Funk'

Kelly Isaac, an Annapolis native who made his Broadway debut last April at age 19 in "Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk," will present a "New York Style Funk Tap Workshop" at the Essex campus of the Community College of Baltimore County from 6: 30 to 8 tonight.

The workshop, in which Isaac will work with local tap dancers, is sponsored by the college dance department but is open to the public for $3.

It will be held in the College Community Center Theater on the Essex campus, 7201 Rossville Blvd. For information, call 410-780-6347.

(The national touring production of "Bring in 'da Noise" will be presented at the Mechanic Theatre March 2-7. Tickets are $31-$59. Call 410-752-1200.)

Pub Date: 2/08/99

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