, Gloucester, MA

February 7, 2013

Crouse, 'Miss Daisy' top Gloucester Stage slate

Classic tops Gloucester Stage's 34th season

By Gail McCarthy
Staff Writer

---- — A provocative musical, a waterfront drama set in Gloucester by founding artistic director Israel Horovitz, and a season finale of the classic “Driving Miss Daisy” starring Lindsay Crouse, Annisquam’s Academy Award-nominee, combine to make up the 34th season of the Gloucester Stage Company.

The new season, announced this week, is notable for the returning talent, including Crouse, who earned a supporting actress Oscar nomination for her role alongside Sally Field in 1984’s “Places In the Heart;” Rockport’s Nancy E. Carroll, whose talents have taken her from Cape Ann to Broadway to Ireland; Jimi Stanton, star of last summer’s powerful “Nine Circles;” and Robert Walsh, who directs this summer’s Horovitz piece after playing a lead role in 2009’s chilling “Sins of the Mother,” also set on the Gloucester waterfront.

“It’s an exciting season, and we’re hoping to see a lot of new faces in the theater,” said Eric Engel, the Gloucester Stage artistic director. “We try to make sure we find dramas with a lighter side and comedies with a meaningful side.”

Capping the season will be “Driving Miss Daisy,” the familiar story-turned Oscar winning film that was written by Alfred Uhry. The Gloucester Stage production will pair Crouse with two Elliot Norton Award winners Johnny Lee Davenport and Robert Pemberton, both of whom also return to Gloucester Stage as well.

The show is directed by Benny Sato Ambush who makes his Gloucester Stage directing debut with this play. Both he and Davenport were actors in last season’s “Master Harold … and the Boys.”

This time around, Ambush directs the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama set in the Civil Rights era about the friendship between a sharp-edged Jewish widow and her black driver.

Engel noted that this is a very different kind of role for Crouse, who will be appearing in her sixth role at Gloucester Stage. In 2008, she starred in “Going to St. Ives” and for three years running she appeared in the “Norman Conquest” trilogy by Tony Award-winning playwright Alan Ayckbourn. She also starred in the one-woman play, “The Belle of Amherst.”

The Gloucester Stage season kicks off in June with the Broadway musical “Spring Awakening,” winner of eight Tony Awards.

Engel, who directs this work, said the story centers on a group of young people coming of age in an atmosphere of repression.

“It’s a powerhouse musical focusing on the lives of young people, coming to terms with sexual mores and friendship and their place in society,” he said. “It will hit a chord with everyone because we have all dealt with these issues as parents or young people ourselves. It is sure to stimulate passionate dialogue.”

The musical is described as an “energetic re-imagining of Frank Wedekind’s 1891 German drama by the same name...with its electrifying and hauntingly beautiful score.”

Every other year, Gloucester Stage has been producing works by Horovitz, an award-winning playwright on two continents who has written more than 70 plays. His works have been translated and performed in more than 30 languages. His play “Line” is in its 38th year of continuous performance, off-Broadway, at the 13th St. Repertory Theatre.

This year, “North Shore Fish” takes the stage in July, directed by Walsh and starring Carroll. The play — about Gloucester women working on the line of a fish processing plant -- made its world premiere at Gloucester Stage in 1986.

Engel said “North Shore Fish” was among his favorite works by Horovitz, whose work also includes teaching a master class in screenwriting at Columbia University and La Femis, France’s national film school.

“He really strikes a wonderful balance between mind and heart, and drama and laughter, and he deals with the changes and challenges of the fishing industry, which are as relevant now as when it was first written,” he said.

Carroll, called one of Boston’s greatest stage actresses, has performed in several shows at Gloucester Stage including Horovitz’s “My Old Lady” in 2007 as well as “The Breath of Life” in 2010 and “Doubt: A Parable” in 2009, in which she played the mother superior.

In August, another work dealing with the issues of adolescence comes to the stage with “This Is Our Youth,” written by Kenneth Lonergan. The play focuses on the lives of three privileged teenagers in 1980s Manhattan “when and where an abundance of worldly knowledge proves no substitute for familial affection.”

This play has been popular with younger theatergoers for its edgy themes.

“This work takes place in very different time and focus on young people than with ‘Spring Awakening’” Engel said. “At the end of the day, it’s about the quality of life and the interactions that you have with your family.”

In “Spring Awakening,” the youths are growing up in a repressed society as compared to “This is Our Youth,” which takes place in an open, liberal and entitled society.

“But they are all a mess,” said Engel. “However, both are really beautiful plays that have a lot to offer.”

This work is directed by Lewis Wheeler, who starred as the priest in the Gloucester Stage production of “Doubt.” The cast is a powerful trio of actors: Stanton — who held the lead role in “Nine Circles” last season; Amanda Collins, who joined Stanton in “Nine Circles” and acted in the quirky non-speaking title role in 2008’s “The Woman In Black.” “Spring Awakening” also features Elliot Norton award-winning actor Alex Pollock, who makes his Gloucester Stage debut.

For one week in late August, “Dueling Divas Cabaret” rounds out the schedule, featuring Mary Callanan, Kerry Dowling and Kathy St. George, and also directed by Engel.

This show tell of a trio of Boston divas who “affectionately battle for center stage” in this cabaret evening of classic tunes from the American stage and screen.

For more information and to purchase tickets, call the box office at 978-281-4433 or visit

Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3445, or at


Gloucester Stage Company's 34th season 

June 20 to July 14: The eight-time Tony Award winning "Spring Awakening" 


July 18 to Aug. 4: "North Shore Fish," by Israel Horovitz, featuring Nancy E. Carroll.

Aug. 8 to 25: "This Is Our Youth" 

Aug. 28 to Sept. 1: "Dueling Divas Cabaret," featuring Mary Callanan, Kerry Dowling and Kathy St. George

Sept. 5 to 22: "Driving Miss Daisy," featuring Lindsay Crouse, Johnny Davenport.

For more information and to purchase tickets, call the box office at 978-281-4433 or visit