YES, WE ARE GOING TO THE THEATER – ON NOV 17th!! Aren’t we all in a mood for froth and humor and wit and bubbly deliciousness in the form of a lighter than air theatrical event? YES! And Lincoln Center Theater is obliging with an original, new, work, FLYING OVER SUNSET, an inspired bit of theatrical effervescence which takes some part fact, and other parts fiction, with celebrities of another era in, uh, unique circumstances.
Set in the 1950’s, FLYING OVER SUNSET focuses on three mega-watt celebs of the day – the English uber-intellectual author (BRAVE NEW WORLD) and screenwriter and some way heart-breakingly sexy (and pretty much blind) ALDOUS HUXLEY; the screenwriter, playwright, diplomat, conservative congresswoman and tart-tongued CLARE BOOTHE LUCE; and no less than the suaver-than-suave and crazy handsome film legend CARY GRANT. As has been well documented, all of these personalities experimented with an early version of the then-legal LSD. Remember, the 1950’s was about a decade before the wide use of the psychedelic drug advocated during the “turn on, tune in, drop out” counterculture era made popular by Harvard faculty member and psychologist-guru Timothy Leary. At the time, it was just beginning to be used by a few people as part of psychotherapy treatment. It’s interesting that now, once again, the use of LSD or psilocybin in the form of guided micro-dosing is being re-examined for the treatment of depression and other psychological illnesses.
This is an original work with a knock-out creative team behind it. Frequent Sondheim collaborator and Tony and Putlizer Award winner James Lapine (Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Passion, Falsettos, A New Brain, Twelve Dreams, ,Act One) has authored FLYING OVER SUNSET and is directing. Tony and Pulitzer-Prize winning Tom Kitt (Next to Normal, Jagged Little Pill, High Fidelity, Head Over Heels) has worked his musical magic in collaboration with lyricist Michael Korie (Grey Gardens, War Paint, Far From Heaven). This is only the second original work LINCOLN CENTER THEATER has ever produced – but with this caliber of creative team behind it, it’s a good bet. For those of you who spend time on Martha’s Vineyard you may have seen a workshop version of this there at the Vineyard Playhouse several summers ago. Harry Haddon-Patton, fresh from playing Henry Higgins in Lincoln Center’s MY FAIR LADY, will portray Huxley, double-threat actor and dancer Tony Yazbeck (loved him in ON THE TOWN!) will do the honors for Cary Grant and Carmen Cusack will turn up the soignee heat as Luce.
But getting back to the story – the first Act is made of up well-known facts – that each of these three experimented with LSD. The second Act is fiction and has the three personalities taking a “trip” together and addressing aspects of their lives and the world at that time. And, even though it more than likely never- ever happened, there would be three no more interesting people to do this! As Lapine said, “Each of the characters had extraordinary lives, chose unusual paths, and were in some ways self-invented.” The show, he said, “is about explorers — about people who reach a certain age, success and notoriety, and want more. They want to know what’s beyond the world they live in.”