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Monday, 27 June 2011 15:53

Mint Theater Extends Acclaimed Production of A LITTLE JOURNEY

Drama Desk Award-Winning Mint Theater 
Extends Acclaimed Production of
A Little Journey
by Rachel Crothers, directed by Jackson Gay

THROUGH JULY 17th ONLY!

“Forgotten artists tend to be forgotten for good reasons, but not always. The Mint Theater Company, one of New York's most admired Off-Broadway troupes, specializes in neglected plays that have slipped through the cracks. More often than not it comes up with gems, among the most notable of which was Rachel Crothers's "Susan and God," first seen in 1937 and revived by the Mint to impressive effect in 2006. Now the company has gone back to the same well with an equally strong staging of another Crothers play, 'A Little Journey,' which hasn't been performed professionally in New York since it closed on Broadway in 1919—and guess what? It's just as good.” -Terry Teachout, Wall St Journal 

“This 1918 play is a beguiling rarity and a bracing plunge into the three-act theatrical pleasures of another age, replete with sparkling dialogue and soaring sentiments...” - David Rooney, New York Times CRITIC'S PICK  

“Sparkles with incisive characterizations and sharp dialogue that reveal superb craft. The Mint Theater Company's wonderfully staged and acted revival is yet another example of its uncanny knack for ferreting out obscure theatrical gems.” - Frank Scheck, New York Post 

“ 'Where else can you see plays like this in New York?' That enthusiastic audience endorsement, overheard at a performance of the Mint's revival production of Rachel Crothers' Pulitzer Prize-nominated 1918 play, 'A Little Journey,' should be music to the ears of Mint a.d. Jonathan Bank, who seems to have some precious-metal detector for the kind of forgotten theater gems that deserve to be dusted off and given a chance to shine again.” - Marilyn Stasio, Variety

"A delightful Off-Broadway revival." - Jennifer Farrar, Associated Press

The Drama Desk and OBIE Award-winning Mint Theater Company today announced the extension for Rachel Crothers's comedy, A Little Journey, through July 17th at the Mint’s home in the heart of the theater district, 311 West 43rd Street.  Jackson Gay directs a cast that features Laurie Birmingham, Jennifer Blood, McCaleb Burnett, Anthony L. Gaskins, Ben Hollandsworth, Victoria Mack, Joey Parsons, Rosemary Prinz, Doug Rees, Ben Roberts, Chet Siegel, Samantha Soule, John Wernke and Craig Wroe. 

Set entirely on a westbound train over the course of a four day trip, A Little Journey tells the story of Julie Rutherford, the girl who finds real life after having been hedged about and bound by conventions and traditions and Jim West, the big-hearted Westerner. Julie’s down on her luck, and Jim is a lonely rancher who’s survived his own troubled life journey. Jim falls in love, but Julie sinks deeper into despair…until a dangerous detour gives them an unexpected chance at happiness.

A Little Journey was a nominee for the first Pulitzer Prize for Drama, ran for 252 performances on Broadway, transferring from the Little Theater to the Vanderbilt during its run.  The New York Herald reported audiences were so moved they lingered in their seats afterward “to cling to the men and women of Miss Crothers’ imagination as one would hold onto friends.”   After Broadway, A Little Journey toured the country, making notable stops in Washington and Chicago. In 1927, it was made into a silent film (now lost) starring Harry Carey, Billy Haines, and Claire Windsor. A handful of amateur and stock productions followed in the 1920s and ‘30s, but then the train stopped…. And A Little Journey hasn’t been seen since. 

Rachel Crothers’ legacy was largely forgotten until the Mint revived her Susan and God in 2006 to great acclaim. Crothers (1878-1958) was among America’s most successful and produced playwrights during the first three decades of the twentieth century. Nearly 30 of her plays opened on Broadway between 1906 and 1937.  “Although it rare now to find anyone who has heard of her,” wrote the New York Times in 1980, “Miss Crothers at the apex of her career was a symbol of success in the commercial theater.”  Crothers’ first Broadway success was with the melodrama The Three Of Us in 1906.  While more sensational than her later work, The Three of Us hinted at Crothers’ interest in strong women characters and social concerns.  Her best work would recast the European “problem play” in a distinctly American idiom, with richly drawn characters and sparkling dialogue.  A Man’s World (1910), heralded by one New York critic as the “first great American play,” followed a young woman’s struggle to establish an artistic career while raising an adopted son.  Nice People (1921) examined the flapper phenomenon through the eyes of three young women and provided Katharine Cornell and Tallulah Bankhead with their first important roles.  In Susan and God (1937), a socialite discovers the difference between public façade and personal faith while reconciling with her husband and daughter.  Crothers directed her own work.  Her consistently high standards helped professionalize the role of director in American theater.  She was also a dedicated philanthropist.  She helped found many important charities, including the American Theater Wing for War Relief (established 1940), which evolved into today’s American Theater Wing.  By the late 1940s, Crothers’ comedies fell out of fashion.  She continued writing, but she did not produce any new plays, preferring to focus on her charity work.  She died in her sleep on July 5, 1958.  The Timeswrote in her obituary “She was as skillful as she was prolific.  Miss Crothers mixed an enormous amount of common sense with smooth craftsmanship and a rare knowledge of and faith in human nature.”

Mint Theater Company, “that truffle hound of half-buried treasures from the past” (Village Voice), has a celebrated reputation for re-discovering worthy but neglected gems and has brought new vitality to timeless but timely plays since 1992. The Mint was awarded an OBIE for “combining the excitement of discovery with the richness of tradition.”  Mint was awarded a special Drama Desk Award for “unearthing, presenting and preserving forgotten plays of merit.”

Following A Little Journey, Mint will return to the work of Teresa Deevy (Wife to James Whelan) with the American Premiere of Temporal Powers.  Performances begin August 3rd and continue through September 25th. Opening Night will be Monday August 29th. Cast and design team will be announced shortly.

Remaining performances for A Little Journey will be Tuesday through Thursday at 7 PM, Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 2 PM & 8 PM, and Sunday at 2 PM. Tickets are $55.  All performances will take place on the Third Floor of 311 West 43rd Street. Tickets are available by calling the Mint box office at 212/315-0231 or go to www.minttheater.org 

And, introducing a new inexpensive way to discover Mint productions - CHEAP TIX:
Everyone appreciates a bargain, especially these days. MintTheater Company is now offering a limited number of seats for every performance at half-price($27.50).