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The Pearl Theatre Company Presents O'Neill's "A Moon for the Misbegotten" at City Center Stage II
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The Pearl Theatre Company Presents O'Neill's "A Moon for the Misbegotten" at City Center Stage II

- Backstage with the Playwrights

The Pearl Theatre Company
J.R. Sullivan, Artistic Director

A Moon for the Misbegotten

By Eugene O’Neill
(O’Neill Bio)

Directed by J.R. Sullivan

City Center Stage II
West 55th Street, Btw. 6th and 7th Avenues

Dan Daily, Kim Martin-Cotton, Andrew May,
Kern McFadden, Sean McNall

Scenic Design: Jo Winiarski
Costume Design: Rachel Laritz
Lighting Design: Jamie Lee Smith
Sound Design: Lindsay Jones
Dramaturg: Kate Farrington
Dialect Design: Amy Stoller
Fight Direction: Rod Kinter
Production Stage Manager: Dale Smallwood
Costume Shop Manager: Niki Hernandez-Adams
Production Manager/Tech. Director: Gary Levinson
Production Asst.: Norah Scheinman
Property Master: Sara Swanberg

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 15, 2012

The Pearl Theatre Company has another hit on its intimate New York City Center Stage II, and a star was born, named Andrew May, whose performance of James Tyrone, Jr. was his NYC debut. He emanates from the Great Lakes Theater, Cleveland Play House, and Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and has appeared, as well, in Williamstown and at the Goodman in Chicago. As the sultry, alcoholic rent-collector of the Hogans’ ramshackle farm, he can fabricate false rewards for Josie’s late night warmth, rewards which, in daylight, fade like the weather-worn wooden frame of the rural Connecticut set. Phil Hogan (Dan Daily) drives son Mike (Sean McNall) off the farm early in this hours-long Eugene O’Neill 1943 oeuvre Phil is a feisty father, who’s not averse to treating his children like mules, ordering food and chores with the threat of his hand. Phil is severely threatened by talk of the sale of the farm he’s been calling home, and he hatches a plan with daughter, Josie (Kim Martin-Cotton), whom he touts as a virgin, to woo James into a compromising act, which Phil and a posse will discover in false surprise. A deal will be presumably struck, keeping hearth safe and keeping Josie in moneyed bliss, benefitting him, too.

The nonsensical plan is introduced on a September noon, with Josie and James setting an 11 PM drinking date to enjoy the moon and make merry. O’Neill’s ensuing monologues, which often linger all too long, expose James’ inner demons, relating to his deceased mother and his weakness with liquor on a painful train ride. James is lonely and wealthy, and his formal suit (thanks to Rachel Laritz’ costume design) and buffed shoes contrast wildly with Josie’s barefoot romp in a loose, pale cotton frock. Josie has quite a reputation in town, but Phil has painted her to James as an untouched young one, who could brighten his bedroom. In spite of the emptying of whole bottles of liquor, James is never too drunk to salvage his future, in spite of the fact that his role is based on O’Neill’s own brother, Jamie, who died from too many bottles. Ms. Martin-Cotton, as Josie, must have a photographic memory, as she’s onstage throughout, and is required to exude a multitude of moods and behaviors, not to mention run in and out of the frame farmhouse, and in and out of James’ crumpled arms. She also rocks him to sleep in maternal embrace. Mr. Daily seems to eat the scenery, as his larger than life physique bounds through the frames with bold, comical energy. Kern McFadden plays T. Stedman Harder, in a brief scene, a man of wealth, who embodies the threat to Phil’s livelihood as property caretaker.

J.R. Sullivan has directed to maximize the poignancy in James’ bruising self-torment, in Josie’s yearning and loneliness, and in Phil’s conflicted intimidation. Jo Winiarski’s imaginative scenery leaves wide open spaces, so necessary on this compact stage, and Jaymi Lee Smith’s lighting adds the moonlit glow. Kudos to the Pearl Theatre Company, which will soon move to the empty Signature Theatre spaces on the far west side of 42nd Street. Kudos to all.

Kim Martin-Cotten (Josie Hogan)
and Dan Daily (Phil Hogan)
in O'Neill's "A Moon for the Misbegotten"
Courtesy of Jacob J. Goldberg

Kim Martin-Cotten (Josie Hogan)
and Andrew May (James Tyrone)
in O'Neill's "A Moon for the Misbegotten"
Courtesy of Jacob J. Goldberg

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at