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Waiting in the Wings by Noel Coward
directed by Anna Hagan
PAL Studio Theatre
April 6 & 7, 2012

Western Gold Theatre Society presents a reading of Noel Cowards WAITING IN THE WINGS set in a retirement home for actresses, it focuses on a feud between residents Lotta Bainbridge and May Davenport, who once both loved the same man.

The reading will feature Sean Allen, Sharon Bell, Mary Black, Sasa Brown, Joy Coghill, Susan Coodin, Anthony Dodd, Evan Frayn, Rosie Frier Dryden, Deanne Henry, Susan Hogan, Niki Lipman, Wendy Morrow Donaldson, David Peterson, Melanie Ray, Gina Stockdale, and Gordon Roberts. 


Waiting in the Wings was Coward's fiftieth play. It premiered in Dublin on 8 August 1960 at the Olympia Theatre, and in the West End at the Duke of York's Theatre on 7 September 1960. It was directed by Margaret Webster and starred Sybil Thorndike, Lewis Casson, Marie Lohr and Graham Payn.

Binkie Beaumont, who usually presented Coward's plays in London, turned it down as "old fashioned". Michael Redgrave put together "a starry cast led by... an amazing gathering of old actresses, many of whom had been stars when Noel was just starting out". Coward later wrote that in the pre-London tour to Dublin, Liverpool and Manchester the play was received "with heart-warming enthusiasm by both the public and the critics". The play was enthusiastically received by the public at its London opening. The London critics, however, disliked the play, and – which was in Coward's eyes much worse – the mass-circulation papers "had neither the wit nor the generosity to pay sufficient tribute to the acting... they gave to their wide circulation of readers the wholly inaccurate impression that the play had been a failure from every point of view." Ultimately, the Waiting in the Wings was not a financial success. Coward said of the play:

"I wrote Waiting in the Wings with loving care and absolute belief in its characters. I consider that the reconciliation between "Lotta" and "May" in Act Two Scene Three, and the meeting of Lotta and her son in Act Three Scene Two, are two of the best scenes I have ever written. I consider that the play as a whole contains, beneath the froth of some of its lighter moments, the basic truth that old age needn't be nearly so dreary and sad as it is supposed to be, provided you greet it with humour and live it with courage."

Four decades later, the play opened on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre on 16 December 1999, transferred to the Eugene O'Neill Theatre on 17 February 2000, and closed on May 28, 2000 after 186 performances and 16 previews. The production was directed by Michael Langham and revised by Jeremy Sams. It starred Lauren Bacall, Rosemary Harris, Barnard Hughes, Dana Ivey, Rosemary Murphy, Helen Stenborg, Patricia Conolly and Elizabeth Wilson. Harris received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Play, and Stenborg received a nomination for Best Featured Actress.


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