Booth Theatre, (11/03/2011 - 6/17/2012)

First Preview: Oct 12, 2011
Opening Date: Nov 03, 2011
Closing Date: Jun 17, 2012
Total Previews: 25
Total Performances: 261

Category: Play, Drama, Original, Broadway
Setting: The Wyeth home, Palm Springs, California. Christmas 2004 and March 2010.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by The Shubert Organization (Philip J. Smith: Chairman; Robert E. Wankel: President)

Produced by Lincoln Center Theater (André Bishop: Artistic Director; Bernard Gersten: Executive Producer); Produced in association with Bob Boyett

Written by Jon Robin Baitz; Original Music by Justin Ellington

Directed by Joe Mantello

Scenic Design by John Lee Beatty; Costume Design by David Zinn; Lighting Design by Kenneth Posner; Sound Design by Jill B.C. Du Boff; Wig Design by Paul Huntley; Make-Up Design by Angelina Avallone; Associate Costume Design: Jacob A. Climer; Assistant Scenic Design: Kacie Hultgren; Assistant Lighting Design: Anthony Pearson; Assistant Sound Design: Brandon Wolcott and Dave Sanderson

LCT Managing Director: Adam Siegel; LCT General Manager: Jessica Niebanck; Company Manager: Matthew Markoff; LCT Associate General Manager: Meghan Lantzy

Production Stage Manager: James FitzSimmons; Production Manager: Jeff Hamlin; Assistant Stage Mgr: Jenn McNeil; Technical Supervisor: William Nagle and Patrick Merryman

LCT Director of Development and Planning: Hattie K. Jutagir; LCT Director of Casting: Daniel Swee; LCT Director of Marketing: Linda Mason Ross; General Press Representative: Philip Rinaldi; Advertising: Serino Coyne; Photographer: Joan Marcus; Video Services: Fresh Produce Productions; Videographer: Frank Basile

Opening Night Cast

Stockard ChanningPolly Wyeth
Rachel Griffiths
Broadway Debut
Brooke Wyeth
(Oct 12, 2011 - Mar 04, 2012)
Stacy KeachLyman Wyeth
Judith LightSilda Grauman
Thomas SadoskiTrip Wyeth
(Oct 12, 2011 - Jan 08, 2012)

Understudies: Jack Davidson (Lyman Wyeth), Lauren Klein (Polly Wyeth, Silda Grauman), Matthew Risch (Trip Wyeth) and Liz Wisan (Brooke Wyeth)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

 2012 Best Play [nominee] 

Written by Jon Robin Baitz; Produced by Lincoln Center Theater (André Bishop: Artistic Director; Bernard Gersten: Executive Producer); Produced in association with Bob Boyett

 2012 Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play [nominee] 

Stockard Channing

winner 2012 Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play [winner] 

Judith Light

 2012 Best Scenic Design of a Play [nominee] 

John Lee Beatty

 2012 Best Lighting Design of a Play [nominee] 

Kenneth Posner

Drama Desk Award

winner 2012 Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play [winner] 

Judith Light


AP: "A book is a poor present in Other Desert Cities"

We've all heard this scenario before: Family members gather for a fraught holiday reunion in which embarrassing family secrets – lubricated by booze and resentment – tumble out.

But Jon Robin Baitz has taken that cliche and somehow made it vibrant in "Other Desert Cities," which had its world debut last year at Lincoln Center Theater and has now made the jump to Broadway. It opened Thursday at the Booth Theatre.

The script crackles with life and so do the performances. Three of the five original cast members (Stockard Channing, Stacy Keach and Thomas Sadoski) return and two newcomers (Rachel Griffiths and Judith Light) more than pull their weight, all under the direction of Joe Mantello, who has kept the humor and intensity flowing despite the cast changes.

It is set on Christmas Eve 2004 at the luxurious Palm Springs home of two Old Guard Republicans – Lyman Wyeth, a movie star-turned-diplomat played tenderly by Keach, and his wife, the perfectly coifed Polly (Stockard), a wannabe WASP who favors plenty of chunky gold jewelry and is dry as vermouth.

Into their well-appointed living room come their lefty relatives: their son Trip (Sadoski) a trashy TV producer; their daughter Brooke (Griffiths), an author who has battled depression and writer's block; and Polly's sister Silda (Light), an acid-tongued recovering alcoholic who burns with resentment.

"It's like King Tut's tomb," Silda quips about Palm Springs. "The whole town is filled with mummies with tans."

A morning of tennis and mild, good-natured insults soon descends into something very uncomfortable when Brooke reveals that her new book is about her long-dead brother, a drug-addled, anti-war activist who committed suicide after a bomb he helped plant accidentally killed someone.

Brooke's book accuses her parents of being uncaring monsters who drove their son to murder. It threatens to dig up the family's dark past and even indicts the entire conservative movement. Christmas cheer is ruined, replaced by what Trip always feared would be "stiff upper-lipped thermonuclear family war."

After setting up this premise – one that could easily become a cartoonish clash between strident left and uptight right – Baitz thankfully swerves his work into subtle territory. Neither side turns out to be correct – or even what they appear to be.

Channing is at her droll best here, shooting off one-liners ("It's all or nothing with your generation," she tells her son. "Either vegans or meth addicts or both at the same time"), but also making clear that her love is not unconditional. When Polly gets angry, her long-suppressed Texas accent emerges, undermining her attempt to be Pat Buckley and revealing one more family secret.

Keach's father is cuddly and cute – he tries to mooch cigarettes from his kids and wants to be the peacemaker – but soon reaches his breaking point, a rage that is palpable. Light, who takes over a role originated by Linda Lavin, shows off her ability to milk the laughs and to find the passionate leftist warhorse within Silda.

Sadoski has become even better in a role that might initially be easy to overlook. Trip is torn between competing factions, but Sadoski won't let him be bullied. Griffiths, who was on the TV series "Six Feet Under" and takes over the role from Elizabeth Marvel, makes her Broadway debut and seems to relish it: She performs yoga on stage, absentmindedly makes a nuisance of herself while nervously waiting for her parents to read her book and is prone to ill-advised bouts of tearful rage.

Despite a cast that runs like an Italian sports car, the real star is the script. Baitz's exploration of reinvention and the value of art wouldn't be nearly as much fun without his artful dialogue. "You think being a depressive makes you special?" Trip asks his sister at one point. "Guess what, being depressed makes you banal."

Costumes by David Zinn keep the theme, with Channing in white trousers and expensive-looking jackets, and Keach in a natty blazer and a sensible tie. Even when playing tennis, the couple wears bright, spotless athletic attire. Their kids, on the other hand, are dressed casual in clothes they are a little too old to be wearing.

The single set by John Lee Beatty – some love seats, a curved Desert Southwest stone wall, a chilly but elegant Christmas tree and one of those 1970s-style Scandinavian freestanding fireplaces – is perfect California chic. Everything is in a tasteful, expensive cream. For Broadway, Beatty has added a wall of glass that distorts the actors' reflections and the hint of a pool outside that leaves reflected water dancing on a ceiling.

By the way, the title of the book that Brooke has brought home to torture her parents is "Love & Mercy" – two things the Wyeth family will be learning a great deal about on this Christmas.


Replacement/Transfer Info

The following people are credited as replacements or additions if they were not credited on opening night.

Booth Theatre

(11/3/2011 - 6/17/2012)


Justin Kirk
Trip Wyeth (Jan 10, 2012 - Mar 25, 2012)
Lauren Klein
during Stockard Channing's hiatus
Polly Wyeth (Mar 14, 2012 - Apr 6, 2012)
Elizabeth Marvel
Brooke Wyeth (Mar 6, 2012 - Jun 17, 2012)
Matthew Risch
during Thomas Sadoski's hiatus
Trip Wyeth (Dec 8, 2011 - Dec 25, 2011)
Trip Wyeth (Mar 27, 2012 - May 6, 2012)
Thomas Sadoski
Trip Wyeth (May 8, 2012 - Jun 17, 2012)

Understudies: Robbie Collier Sublett (Trip Wyeth), Jennifer Harmon (Polly Wyeth, Silda Grauman), Jed Orlemann (Trip Wyeth), Karen Walsh (Brooke Wyeth).

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