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The Jewel Box of Community

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The Jewel Box of Community

Our 42nd Season! 805.927.3877






The Grand Manner


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The Fourth Show of Our 36th Season

The Grand Manner

By A.R. Gurney

A Love Letter to Live Theatre and the Golden Age of Broadway!

Only Five Weeks — Aug 31 - Sep 30, 2012

Opening on Labor Day weekend, the Pewter Plough presents an endearing and heartfelt comedy, by the famous playwright A.R. Gurney, devoted to Broadway's allure and glorious heyday, the grandeur of great stars and a glimpse of the transition to the theatre of today. It covers a time when live theatre was at its pinnacle, before the glare of TV and Twitter! The play was inspired by an actual event in A.R. Gurney's life, when as a y'oung, wide-eyed student he traveled from his prep school to attend a Broadway performance starring Katharine Cornell, hailed as the greatest actress of her generation and dubbed the "First Lady of the American Stage". After the show, he went backstage to meet the fabled and revered actress, who reigned supreme on Broadway and across the stages of America from the 1930s through 1950s (only Helen Hayes rivaled Cornell). This true-life encounter had a life-changing effect on Gurney and he has re-imagined it as a fantasy and the basis for The Grand Manner.

The play depicts many exotic backstage goings-on and repartee between Cornell; her flamboyant director-husband, Guthrie McClintic; her companion-manager, Gert; and the young "Pete" Gurney. The great Cornell is taken with young "Pete" and uncharacteristically opens-up to him about misgivings with her performance and the realization that her glamorous but remote theatrical style is giving way to a more modern and naturalistic approach, with the likes of Marlon Brando and Tennessee Williams leading the way. Young Gurney is enthralled with this heady atmosphere and begins to discover his own cravings and inclinations for a theatrical career. The Grand Manner is full of Gurney's trademark breezy and engaging dialogue, colorful characters, insightful observations about life and genuine charm. Adult language and themes.

A.R. Gurney is the well-known author of many hit plays, including many presented at the Playhouse, such as Love Letters, Sylvia, The Golden Age, The Cocktail Hour, Ancestral Voices and The Fourth Wall. The Grand Manner is Gurney's latest play.

"Recreates an era when stage actors were the celebs of the day... reflects Gurney's talent for insightful dialogue and strong characters, well cast...Toni Young is excellent as the First Lady of the American Stage...Riley creates a charming young Gurney...set at a turning point in American theatre" — Joan Crowder, The Tribune and The Cambrian

To read the full review, click here

"A love letter to the theatre, zeroing in on the moment it ceded its myth-making power to the screen. Gurney also points out that icons could become imprisoned by their own image and style, and that marriages come in various shapes and forms." — New York Post

"This fantasy memoir allows the author's younger, provincial self a seductive first glimpse of a world where being merely life-size isn't enough" — New York Times

Our cast features Toni Young, Sandy Bosworth, Kasady Riley, Jeff Walters and Tracy Mayfield. Directed by Gene Strohl, who directed Gurney's The Fourth Wall last year.