Signature Theatre will not be going "Into the Woods" this spring.
Construction delays have made it impossible for the Arlington company to inaugurate its Shirlington Village space with a previously announced May-June revival of Stephen Sondheim's fairy-tale-inspired show. "Into the Woods" will be rescheduled for when the new theater does open, most likely in September with the start of next season, Managing Director Sam Sweet said.
"In the last couple of months it became uncertain that we could get in in enough time to pull off a well-planned opening," he said. After a point, "there really was no way that this series of little delays could be remedied."
Now that the move from its cramped Four Mile Run Drive space has been postponed, Signature has announced other schedule changes. Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer will stage a different Sondheim show, "Assassins," next spring (March 28-May 14). "The Sex Habits of American Women" (June 6-July 16) by Julie Marie Myatt, directed by Rick DesRochers, still will close the season and, Sweet hopes, will mark the end of a dozen years at Four Mile Run Drive.
Signature's Shirlington space will be above the public library, so private and Arlington County builders need to coordinate their work. The county's contractors are running "a little late," said Terry Holzheimer, director of economic development, and Signature needs county approval for its newly revised architectural plans.
"I think probably the original [building] schedule was ambitious to begin with," Holzheimer said. "We want everything to work flawlessly and there are so many pieces to this: garage access, the library/theater complex and two or three other adjacent projects, all under construction at the same time."
Signature will occupy the top three floors of the library/theater building. The theater company has raised about $5.6 million in a $7.5 million capital campaign to cover the build-out of its space. Once the theater reaches $6.9 million, the remaining $600,000 has been promised as a grant from the Kresge Foundation.
Sweet is disappointed that the grand opening will not happen until next season, but he adds, "In a building that's going to be Signature's home for the next 30 years . . . you've got one chance to do it right."
"If you see me at a restaurant, think twice about sitting next to me," warns Canadian actor-playwright-filmmaker Daniel MacIvor. He'll transform your dinner table prattle into dialogue for his plays. "I distill things down to their essence," he says.
He distills the essence of a woman's messy life in "You Are Here," now in a Theater Alliance production at H Street Playhouse through Nov. 13.
MacIvor, whose "Marion Bridge" opened off-Broadway this month, has been in San Francisco workshopping another play. A frequent performer of his own solo pieces (recently "Cul de Sac") at New York's P.S. 122 and on the road, he seems an itinerant artist. He rents a place in Halifax (he was born in Sydney, Nova Scotia) and has an office in Toronto, but says he is on the road about six months a year.
MacIvor acquired considerable experience in the film industry in Canada, writing and appearing in shorts and features. (His "Marion Bridge" was filmed in 2002.) His 2001 "You Are Here" offers a pretty devastating critique of film folk.
"People, I think, are motivated to make theater by an internal need to speak or to work something out," he says, "and people generally in my experience make movies because they want to be famous or they want some kind of recognition."
In "You Are Here," Alison (played by Jennifer Mendenhall) begins her professional life writing for a glitzy celebrity-sniffing magazine, then marries a psychotherapist who wants to write screenplays and urges Alison to use her Hollywood contacts to get him a film deal. She experiences tragedy and betrayal, commits a few betrayals herself, drinks and snorts too much, and then craters. As the play opens, she invites the audience to look back at her life with her. She jumps into the action, and occasionally out again to remark on it.
"I would hope that people would start thinking about the moments of their lives and how we really only do get a chance to do it once. Alison has a chance to do it twice," MacIvor says. But "the rub there is she has to do it the same way as she did it before," he adds.
"If we lived our lives as if we had an audience, I think we would probably be more conscious of what we do and how we behave and the way we treat people," MacIvor says.
Gregg Henry, artistic director of the Kennedy Center's American College Theater Festival, directed Theater Alliance's production. The "You Are Here" script "kind of kicked me in the stomach and in the head and in the heart all at the same time," he says. "We see parallel events in our own lives, or at least I did."
* Keegan Theatre will present Tennessee Williams's "A Streetcar Named Desire" at Church Street Theater Oct. 27-Nov. 26, after the company's six-week tour in Ireland. A Williams repertory with a double bill of "Portrait of a Madonna" and "Suddenly Last Summer," both directed by Leslie A. Kobylinski, will follow Nov. 17-Dec. 17, at Gunston Arts center. Call 703-527-6000 or visit keegantheatre.com.
* Judith Ivey, Ted van Griethuysen, Rick Foucheux and Nancy Robinette will perform in a reading of "State of the Union," the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1946 drama by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. The play about political Washington had a pre-Broadway tryout here in 1945. The reading at Ford's Theatre Monday at 7 p.m. is free. Call 202-347-6262 to reserve seats.
* Kennedy Center fundraiser Ed Zakreski will come on board the Shakespeare Theatre Company Nov. 1 as chief development officer. He will oversee the company's capital campaign for its new space, projected to open in 2007. The Shakespeare has so far raised $52 million toward the $77 million Harman Center for the Arts.
* Speaking of the Kennedy Center, it recently adjusted the dates for its revival of Jerry Herman's "Mame," starring Christine Baranski and directed by Signature Theatre's Eric Schaeffer. It will run May 27-July 2 in the Eisenhower Theater.
Jennifer Mendenhall is Alison in "You Are Here," Daniel MacIvor's tale of a woman's messy life.