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Primary Stages Presents "Harrison, TX", Three Plays by Horton Foote, at Primary Stages

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Primary Stages Presents:
Harrison, TX
Three Plays by Horton Foote

Directed by Pam MacKinnon
Primary Stages
59E59 Theaters
59 East 59th Street

Hallie Foote, Devon Abner, Mary Bacon, Jeremy Bobb,
Andrea Lynn Green, Jayne Houdyshell, Evan Jonigkeit,
Jenny Dare Paulin, Alexander Cendese

Set Design: Marion Williams
Lighting Design: Tyler Micoleau
Costume Design: Kaye Voyce
Original Music and Sound Design: Broken Chord
Prop Master: Susan Barras
Production Stage Manager: Kyle Gates
Production Supervisor: PRF Productions
Casting: Stephanie Klapper Casting
Associate Artistic Director: Michelle Bossy
Press: Keith Sherman & Associates
General Manager: Toni Marie Davis
Director of Marketing: Elizabeth Kandel

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 12, 2012

Hallie Foote, daughter of the much renowned and beloved playwright, Horton Foote, is a master of Foote’s character sentiments, here two Texan women of 1928 and 1952. Actually Harrison, TX is a compilation of three of Mr. Foote’s early plays, the 1985 Blind Date, the 1985 The One-Armed Man, and the 1956 The Midnight Caller, all placed in Harrison, Texas, Mr. Foote’s milieu. Some members of the cast magnificently switch roles between the one-act plays. Ms. Foote appears in two, as does Devon Abner, Andrea Lynn Green, Jeremy Bobb, and Alexander Cendese.

I found the first and third plays extremely satisfying, with the centerpiece uncharacteristically disturbing, for Foote. Blind Date, a comedy of manners, with Dolores (Ms. Foote) mentoring her niece, Sarah Nancy (Andrea Lynn Green), on finding a husband, while Dolores’ put-upon husband, Robert (Devon Abner), plays straight man, walking in and out of scenes in harried dismay. Dolores invited Felix (Evan Jonigkeit) to meet Sarah Nancy in the family living room, but Sarah Nancy wants none of this. In fact, she’s persistently passive aggressive, even disappearing, now and then, with sudden fainting spells. Marion Williams’ rear staircase is busy. Although Felix could be considered dapper, he’s studying at mortician school and is fond of reciting biblical lists of disciples, a scene that lasted much too long, causing one of Sarah Nancy’s disappearing acts.

The centerpiece, The One-Armed Man, has C. W. Rowe (Jeremy Bobb) sitting left stage at his desk, working on the budget for his cotton company. He’s arrogant, self-serving, and dispassionate, especially when McHenry (Alexander Cendese) comes by with a rifle, demanding his lost arm, a result of a mill accident some time ago. Pinkey (Devon Abner) is Rowe’s loyal assistant and also a victim of Rowe’s sarcasm and temper. The piece is brief, thankfully, but tense beyond necessity. Prayers and pleading replace bragging and bravado.

The Midnight Caller brings out the eloquent Jayne Houdyshell as Miss Rowena Douglas, one of three single ladies in a boarding house, run by Mrs. Crawford (Hallie Foote). The other two ladies are “Cutie” Spencer (Andrea Lynn Green) and Alma Jean Jordan (Mary Bacon). Cutie is the insecure one, Alma Jean is the one who gets into everyone’s business, and Rowena is the older, lonely one, who rocks, watching the constellations and planets. In comes Helen Crews (Jenny Dare Paulin), who became intimately involved (as the whole town knows) with Harvey Weems (Alexander Cendese), a local drunk. Jeremy Bobb re-appears in a much friendlier character, Mr. Ralph Johnston, a deus ex machina for Helen and a fantasy for dreams for the stranded single ladies.

To see Ms. Houdyshell gazing at the night sky and waxing poetic was worth the third piece, and to see Ms. Foote with her squawky twang and sharp-elbowed gait in the first piece was worth enduring the restless centerpiece. Pam MacKinnon directed for retro naturalness of small town, American spirit. Kaye Voyce’s costumes were central to the period and personalities, especially the suit and trousers of the 1928 cotton company staff and intruder. Kudos to Primary Stages for mounting this selection of Foote’s oeuvres, as his writing always draws the audience close to the very center of his characters.

Andrea Lynn Green and Hallie Foote
in "Harrison, TX": Three Plays by Horton Foote
Courtesy of James Leynse

Evan Jonigkeit, Hallie Foote,
Andrea Lynn Green, Devon Abner
in "Harrison, TX": Three Plays by Horton Foote
Courtesy of James Leynse

Jeremy Bobb and Devon Abner
in "Harrison, TX": Three Plays by Horton Foote
Courtesy of James Leynse

Andrea Lynn, Green, Jayne Houdyshell, Mary Bacon
in "Harrison, TX": Three Plays by Horton Foote
Courtesy of James Leynse

Jayne Houdyshell, Mary Bacon,
Jeremy Bobb, Andrea Lynn Green,
Jenny Dare Paulin, Alexander Cendese
in "Harrison, TX": Three Plays by Horton Foote
Courtesy of James Leynse

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