From Door to Door
by James Sherman
directed by Joe Brancato
Produced by Morton Wolkowitz and Chase Mishkin
set design by Tony Award-winner Tony Straiges,
lighting design by Jeff Nellis,
costume design by Ingrid Mauer
sound design by Joann Doty.
Sherman's best-known play is the long-running regional and Off-Broadway smash, Beau Jest, and its recent musical version, seen earlier this year at the Hollywood Playhouse in Florida. His latest play, Affluenza!, premiered fall 2003 at the Tony Award-nominated Victory Gardens. It was his 10th play there since 1985, when God of Isaac premiered.
His plays also include Jest a Second!, plus Magic Time, Mr. 80%, The Escape Artist, This Old Man Came Rolling Home, Romance in D and The Old Man's Friend.
The life stories of a Jewish mother, her daughter and a granddaughter are explored in the Manhattan premiere of the warm comedy, From Door to Door, by Beau Jest playwright James Sherman, starting March 16.
Opening night is set for March 24 at Off-Broadway's Westside Theatre, 407 W. 43rd Street. The play premiered at Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago, where Sherman is part of the playwrights ensemble, in 1999 and then regionally, including a run directed by Joe Brancato at Penguin Rep in Rockland County, New York. The Manhattan staging represents the commercial premiere of the show. The cast of the Penguin staging returns to the project.
The play focuses on "three generations of the same family," Sherman explained. "One woman of my grandmother's generation, one woman of my mother's generation and one woman of our generation. The play covers 65 years, from 1935 up to just about the present."
Produced by Morton Wolkowitz and Chase Mishkin, the play is directed by Joe Brancato (who staged the Drama Desk Award winner, Cobb) and stars Anita Keal, Sarah McCafrey and Suzanne Toren.
"There's no secret this play is inspired by my mother," Sherman said. "She knows it, she's seen it. The play is to honor her and the women of her generation."
The play is a memory for Mary, the middle character, played by Suzanne Toren, Sherman said.
"The play begins in the present," the playwright explained. "She's sitting shiva for her husband, she is there with her daughter, and something stimulates her to reflect back on her life."
Is the play autobiographical?
"I think all plays are autobiographical, the more I think about it," Sherman said. "Edward Albee wrote Three Tall Women and those women were New England upper-class, like his family was. The women in my play are Jewish in Chicago because that's where I was from."
The play's title is a reference to a phrase in the Hebrew prayer book, "l'dor v'dor," which means "from generation to generation."
"When I was working on the play it gave me an excuse for my mother to sit down and talk about herself, which is not something she loves to do," Sherman said. "I also talked to a number of women of her generation, and women like my sister, and what started to interest me about these mothers and daughters is how we take what we get from our parents and then make choices about what we will pass on to our children and not pass onto our children."
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