Arizona Theatre Company Premieres Ten Chimneys in Downtown Phoenix

[Source: Arizona Theater Company]

Jeffrey Hatcher’s new play offers a look at the private lives of artists who are always on the stage

Photo by Ed Flores

In the lavish world premiere comedy TEN CHIMNEYS, Arizona Theatre Company reveals what every Broadway star already knows – that the real drama on stage happens when the curtain is down.  Commissioned by Arizona Theatre Company and written by nationally acclaimed playwright Jeffrey Hatcher, TEN CHIMNEYS brings Broadway legends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne to life in a romantically charged, comedy that offers a revealing look at the private lives of artists who are always on the stage.

This world premiere directed by ATC Artistic Director David Ira Goldstein runs in Phoenix downtown at the Herberger Theater Center February 17, 2011 – March 6, 2011. TEN CHIMNEYS is sponsored by “Friends of Ten Chimneys,” a group of individual donors dedicated to the advancement of new works and preservation of the Ten Chimneys estate. The Phoenix media sponsors for the 2010-2011 Season are Phoenix Magazine and 99.9 KEZ. This production is also sponsored in part by the Edgerton Foundation.  Arizona Theatre Company’s season sponsors are I. Michael and Beth Kasser.

Love, intrigue, romance and suicide.  And that’s just in the play they’re rehearsing.  In the late 1930s, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, the two most revered stars of the Broadway stage, decide to perform Chekhov’s masterpiece The Sea Gull.  But first they must retreat to ‘investigate’ the play at Ten Chimneys, their legendary Wisconsin estate, where they are surrounded by actors, family and hangers-on.  When a young actress named Uta Hagen arrives, a romantic triangle begins to mirror the events in Chekov’s play about passion and art.

In life and in the theatre, things have a way of circling back. I was a college freshman sitting in the Lunt-Fontanne Theater in New York the night they dimmed the lights for Alfred Lunt, who had died earlier that day.  The next year in acting class, I read Uta Hagen’s Respect for Acting for the first time.  Two years later, when I was a senior, I played Trigorin in my college production of The Sea Gull.  When David Ira Goldstein and I toured Ten Chimneys and someone pointed out that the Lunts had performed The Sea Gull with Uta Hagen in 1938, the strands came together in a flash.  Working on TEN CHIMNEYS has been one of the most enjoyable – and meaningful – experiences I’ve had in the theater.  Here’s hoping it honors the ghosts.”

—playwright Jeffrey Hatcher.

Jeffrey’s witty and delightful new play is a work of imagination, speculation and outright invention about the Lunts and their circle. But it is based on very real people who lived and worked in a very real place. The Lunts loved everything to do with the stage, so TEN CHIMNEYS is a celebration of what we still hold dear about the theatre: the sense of fun, the very real work of exploring a play and the hot-house humanity of artists working in close collaboration. Like all of Jeffrey’s plays it is full of delights with delicious roles for actors and an energetic intelligence for audiences.

—director and ATC Artistic Director David Ira Goldstein

Read about the cast and company’s visit to Ten Chimneys – and see photos of the Lunts’ home – in ATC Literary Manager Jenny Bazzell’s rehearsal blog.

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