Sometimes you have a first reading of a play with a new cast and it doesn’t go so well. The script may be solid and the cast experienced and professional. But the magic may not happen immediately.
This was not the case yesterday at our first read-through of Tennessee Williams’ Baby Doll with this fabulous cast. The magic happened. Immediately.
It was one of those wondrous occasions when actors, director, production team and play all came together in a thrilling first read-through of a colorful and dynamic script. As the actors read the script together for the first time, the play soared off the page.
The gathering began in extraordinary fashion. Actress Karen Kondazian, playing Aunt Rose Comfort, has starred in many Williams plays and knew the playwright personally. Before rehearsal began yesterday, Karen displayed a small black box and slowly opened it. She carefully unwrapped the contents and held it up in the palm of her hand like a scared relic: a pair of Tennessee Williams’ glasses. It was passed around the table. Each company member examined the glasses, some put them on and had the unique experience of “seeing through the eyes” of one of America’s great playwrights.
Fountain Co-Artistic director Stephen Sachs welcomed the company and guided them through the paperwork at hand. Director Simon Levy spoke briefly about the play. Then the cast — Daniel Bess, Karen Kondazian, Lindsay LaVanchy, John Prosky and George Roland — read the script. And the play immediately leapt to life.
Joined at the table were Co-Artistic Director Deborah Lawlor, associate producer James Bennett, production stage manager Emily Lehrer, assistant stage manager Miranda Stewart, props designer Terri Roberts and publicist Lucy Pollak.