Kyle Donnelly directs Other Desert Cities

Mar 22, 2013
Arena Stage

Hidden secrets are unearthed and family tensions fly high in Pulitzer Prize nominee Jon Robin Baitz's contemporary family drama Other Desert Cities, hailed by the New York Times as "the best new play on Broadway" in 2011. Helen Hayes Award winner and former Arena Stage Associate Artistic Director Kyle Donnelly returns to direct the D.C.-area premiere of the show with a cast that features Tony Award nominee and two-time Helen Hayes Award winner Helen Carey (Mary Tyrone in Arena Stage's Long Day's Journey into Night, Broadway's Hedda Gabler) as matriarch Polly Wyeth and two-time Tony Award nominee Larry Bryggman (Broadway's Harvey, CBS's As the World Turns) as patriarch Lyman Wyeth. Rounding out the cast are Emily Donahoe (Broadway's 33 Variations) as daughter Brooke Wyeth, Scott Drummond (Cherry Lane Theatre's A Perfect Future) as son Trip Wyeth and Martha Hackett (Pacific Resident Theatre's Nora) as their aunt Silda Grauman. Other Desert Cities runs April 26-May 26, 2013 in the Fichandler Stage.

"Jon Robin Baitz brings the perfect amount of humor and drama to his portrayal of a family struggling to reconcile their family secrets," shares Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith. "Full of conflict, emotional fireworks, unresolved feelings and explosive political dynamics, Other Desert Cities is a wonderfully intelligent story that keeps audiences on the edge of their seats. I'm thrilled to welcome Kyle back to lead our powerhouse cast in bringing this thoroughly American family to life."

In Other Desert Cities, after a six-year absence, Brooke Wyeth returns to her Reaganite parents' Palm Springs enclave for the holidays. But the warm desert air turns chilly when news of her upcoming memoir threatens to revive the most painful chapter of the family's history. Perception and reality grapple with love and mercy as old family wounds are opened, childhood memories are tested and the Wyeth clan learns that some secrets cannot stay buried forever. Full of surprisingly touching moments, Jon Robin Baitz (A Fair Country, creator of ABC's Brothers & Sisters) brings dysfunctional family drama to new heights in this witty, deeply enjoyable work that garnered a Tony Award nomination for Best New Play and won the 2012 Drama League Award.

"While it is always a joy to direct in the Fichandler Stage, I am particularly thrilled to work on Jon Robin Baitz's play in that magical space," shares Donnelly, who returns to the iconic in-the-round space by directing her 22nd show at Arena Stage. "I look forward to creating an intimate and almost tribal space for the secrets in this family drama to play out and reveal themselves."

Jon Robin Baitz (Playwright)'s plays include Mizlansky/Zilinsky or "schmucks," The Film Society, The Substance of Fire, The End of the Day, Three Hotels, A Fair Country, (an adaptation of) Hedda Gabler, Ten Unknowns and The Paris Letter. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist for A Fair Country and a Guggenheim, NEA and American Academy of Arts and Letters Award winner. He is on the faculties of the New School's Graduate Drama Division and Stony Brook South Hampton's MFA in theater and film. His screenplays include The Substance of Fire and People I Know starring Al Pacino, both for Miramax. He created the ABC drama Brothers & Sisters in 2006, after writing an episode of The West Wing (The Long Goodbye). Other Desert Cities was nominated for Lortel, Drama Desk, Drama League and Outer Critics Circle Awards, winning the latter two.

Kyle Donnelly (Director) was associate artistic director at Arena Stage (1992-98) and has directed Ah, Wilderness!, Dancing at Lughnasa (Helen Hayes Award, Best Production), Polk County (Helen Hayes Award, Best Musical) and numerous other productions. She directed the American premiere of Brian Friel's Give Me Your Answer, Do! off-Broadway and has worked with many regional theaters, including Old Globe (Orson's Shadow), Seattle Rep (The Three Musketeers, Constant Wife), Goodman (The Rover), Steppenwolf (Molly Sweeney), Huntington (Ah, Wilderness!,Aristocrats), ACT (Constant Wife), Studio (Baltimore Waltz) and Alliance (To Kill a Mockingbird). She has won Helen Hayes and Joseph Jefferson Awards and the Arthur and Molli Wagner Endowed Chair in Acting at UC San Diego, where she heads the MFA Program in Acting.