From left, Laurie Klatscher and Cary Anne Spear rehearse scenes for The Rep's production of "Endless Lawns."
By Sharon Eberson / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Rep, Point Park University's professional theater company, closes its 2014-15 season with the world premiere of Pittsburgh playwright Anthony McKay's "Endless Lawns."
Where: The Rep at Studio Theatre, Pittsburgh Playhouse, 222 Craft Ave., Oakland.
When: Previews tonight then runs Friday through April 12. 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. No performance April 5; additional performance 8 p.m. April 1.
Tickets: $24-$27 ($15 preview). 412-392-8000 or www.pittsburghplayhouse.com. Pay what you will 2 p.m. March 28 and April 4 and 11, subject to availability. Post-show talkback after April 4 matinee.
The play about two sisters born of privilege who lose it all and wind up working in menial jobs was developed at Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York by Mr. McKay, an associate professor of acting at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama. He has had four of his one acts produced at Ensemble Studio, including "The Buster Sealy Story" with Ted Danson. He also has appeared on Broadway in Jean Kerr's "Lunch Hour," directed by Mike Nichols and starring Gilda Radner.
The idea for "Endless Lawns" came from a revelation in a casual conversation.
"A family member told me about similar circumstances of two wonderful women, who I am still friends with. I was told that [one of them] was working in a Kmart, and it was kind of, 'How did this happen?' " Mr. McKay said.
In "Endless Lawns," the 50-something daughters -- portrayed by Laurie Klatscher and Cary Anne Spear -- have been cut off from their life of swimming pools and tennis courts by their famous father and now are struggling to make their way in the world. Jason McCune and Mark Staley also appear, as a fellow Kmart worker and a visitor who triggers a crisis in the women's lives.
Others have noted similarities to themes in "Grey Gardens," a musical created from a documentary about a once-wealthy mother and daughter who live a strange and isolated existence.
"The biggest difference is, in 'Grey Gardens,' they have cocooned themselves from the world. The women [in 'Endless Lawns'] have to be engaged with the outside world to survive," the writer said. "It's about the hold the past can have on you when you can't let it go."
There were three readings of the play in New York before it arrived at The Rep with Greg Lehane as director. Mr. McKay has continued to tweak the script as the director and actors have come up with "excellent questions" during rehearsals.
Still, he was ready to let go as the world premiere this weekend was approaching.
"I teach acting at CMU so I only have time to write in the summers, and this has been a long process," Mr. McKay said. "When I think of all those mornings sitting with my computer at the bay window and working on this ... I'm thrilled to finally see it on its feet and ready for an audience."
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