by Irene Morse
Special KRL coupon code at the end of this article.
Other Desert Cities, by Jon Robin Baitz, premiered on Broadway in November 2011. A finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize, the story revolves around a family and the disruptive quality of family secrets. Director, Donny Graham, saw the play at the Ahmanson Theatre and was immediately infatuated. His production is now playing at the Ice House Theatre.
There is a highway sign on eastbound I-10 that indicates “Indio, California and Other Desert Cities.” The play takes place in Palm Springs, one of these cities.
It is Christmas, 2004 and the Wyeth family has gathered together for the holiday for the first time in many years. Although the family is Jewish, they gather together for family time. “After all,” Graham remarks, “Hollywood people are real people, too.” They are also well-connected, very conservative politically, and according to Graham, “share a family secret that becomes a ghostly undercurrent of hidden family guilt.”
The New York Times proclaims, “All family reunions should be this satisfying.” They continue, the play is “a witty, deeply enjoyable family drama.”
Thomas Nance returns to the Ice House Theatre in the role of Lyman Wyeth, the family patriarch. He says that, “The play’s characters are all rich, flawed, sincere, and loving. … each character is doing the best he or she can to make a very unfair world a better place to live.”
Nancy Holley portrays his wife, Polly Wyeth, “a disciple of Nancy Reagan.” She describes her relationships within the family, “I love all my children, but understand none of them. I admire their talents, but not their choices.”
Liberal daughter, Brook, is played by Kristle McWells. Brooke has come home after a long absence to inform the family that she has written a memoir that will soon be published. The memoir will expose the family secret and possibly derail the entire family.
Thom Crowe portrays the youngest Wyeth child, Trip. Trip, a TV producer, enjoys a certain status within the family as the youngest child. Now he must deal with what will change once the book is released.
Silda Grauman, played by Robin Hoffman, used to be a screenwriter with her sister, Polly. She is joining the family gathering after a recent stint in rehab. Hoffman reports that the play is, “Great drama, with some lightheartedness and funny moments. It is thought-provoking, but enjoyable.”
The NY Post writes that the play is, “Astutely drawn…juicy and surprising.” Holley agrees. She thinks it is a production that, “Everyone can relate to and perhaps learn that we frequently make relationships harder than they need to be for what we see as the best of reasons.”
Director Graham reports that Other Desert Cities is one of those productions where everything comes together in a positive way. He states that there is “a really strong cast. They do whatever I ask, but add to the creativity.” Each one is “intuitive and aware of their acting instrument.”
The New York Times has written that this is, “The most richly enjoyable play for grown-ups that New York has known in many seasons.” Other Desert Cities contains adult language and mature content.
On Sunday April 26 after the matinee, “Back Stage at the Ice House” will be hosted by Sharon DeCoux, a veteran Visalia Player. Audience members will have an opportunity for a behind the scenes look at the show and the opportunity to ask questions and interact with cast/crew.
Other Desert Cities opens at the Ice House Theater at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 17, 2015 and runs for three weekends with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on 4/17, 4/18, 4/24, 4/25, 5/1, and 5/2 and matinees at 2:00 p.m. on 4/19, 4/26, and 5/3. Note: The play includes adult language.
For more information about the Visalia Community Players and to purchase tickets, check out their website and KRL’s article about VCP. Tickets may also be purchased by calling 734-3900. For details about local arts groups in Tulare County, visit the Visalia Arts Consortium website.
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To purchase two tickets for the price of one, enter KRLODC in the Have a code? box on the Buy/Redeem Tickets Reservation page via the Players website.