Interest is high in “High,” the new play by former Wethersfield resident Matthew Lombardo now in previews at TheaterWorks Hartford in advance of its official world premiere on July 31, so much so that the run has been extended an additional week through August 22nd.
Part of the interest is no doubt caused by the presence of two-time Golden Globe winner and Academy and Tony award nominee Kathleen Turner in the leading role of Sister Jamison Connelly, a rehabilitation counselor whose experienced challenges of her own who decides to take on the case of a 19-year old street hustler and addict. Also of interest is the “Hartford connection,” Playwright Lombardo grew up in Wethersfield and one of his earliest successes played at the Hartford Stage Company, “Tea at Five” which featured Kate Mulgrew as the indomitable Katharine Hepburn, and later went on great success in New York and around the country (where it is now touring in a production starring Stephanie Zimbalist). The director too is of local interest: Rob Ruggiero, who has directed over 40 productions at TheaterWorks and at theaters around the country including Goodspeed Opera House, the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., the Pittsburgh Public Theater, and others, as well as the Broadway debut of Lombardo’s most recent play, “Looped,” which starred Valerie Harper in a Tony-nominated performance as Tallulah Bankhead.
The Hartford run can only be extended through August 22 because this production of “High” moves next to the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, from September 4 through October 2, 2010, and then on to the Repertory Theater of St. Louis from October 13 through November 7, who are collaborating on this work with TheaterWorks.
Turner, perhaps best known for her screen work in such classics as Body Heat, Prizzi’s Honor, Peggy Sue Got Married, The War of the Roses, Romancing The Stone, and Serial Mom, is also an accomplished stage actress receiving accolades for her turns on Broadway in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Indiscretions, The Graduate and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolff, for which she received her second Tony nomination.Connecticut audiences were privileged to see Ms. Turner in a stage adaptation of Camille at the Long Wharf Theater and maybe one day we’ll get to see her recently acclaimed one-person show “Red Hot Patriot:The Kick Ass Wit of Molly Ivins” which she recently performed in Philadelphia. She is also the author of a well-received autobiography, Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on my Life, Love and Leading Roles, published in 2008.
Joining Turner in the cast of “High” are Michael Berresse as her confident and sometime antagonist, Father Michael Delpapp. Berresse has starred on Broadway in the award-winning production of The Light in the Piazza, Kiss Me Kate and the recent revival of A Chorus Line. He also directed the Broadway premiere of [title of show]. Playing the young hustler is Evan Jonigkeit, a Philadelphia based actor who has performed at many of that city’s professional theaters and was recently cited by Philadelphia Weekly magazine as “Philly’s sexiest actor,” after appearing in local productions of Romeo and Juliet and The History Boys.
The set is by Tony winner David Gallo, costumes by Tony winner Jess Goldstein, with lights and sound, respectively, by TheaterWorks veterans John Lasiter and Vincent Oliveri.
The show plays Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8p.m. with weekend matinees at 2:30 p.m. For tickets call the box office at (86) 527-7838. For more information, visit www.theaterworkshartford.org.