Fund for New American Plays

Great Day in the Morning
South Coast Repertory, Costa Mesa, CA

Set at the turn of the century, Great Day in the Morning is the story of Elizabeth Drexel, recently widowed, who comes to New York from her sheltered life in Philadelphia. She is immediately taken up by Mrs. Astor and her circle of the Four Hundred, including an old family friend, Ulysses S. Grant. She meets Harry Lehr, a poor Southern boy whose charm, good looks, and rare singing voice have made him the court jester of the Astor set. Swept away by Harry's attentions, and despite a warning from her mother about the perils of romantic love--indeed the wastefulness of any heroic view of life--Elizabeth marries Lehr. But Harry cannot return her love: he's only in it for the show, even as he seeks his own pleasure from strangers in dark alleys. Caught in a charade and the wasting illness which begins to cripple Harry, even as her disillusionment reveals the hollowness of the Gilded Age, Elizabeth must find strength somehow: in her fidelity to her marriage vows, in further romance, or--with the coming century--in new definitions of her own identity.

Thomas Babe's plays Rebel Women, A Prayer for My Daughter, Taken in Marriage, Fathers and Sons, Salt Lake City Skyline, and Buried Inside Extra were first produced by Joseph Papp and the New York Shakespeare Festival. Several new plays premiered in California, including Demon Wine at Los Angeles Theatre Center, Planet Fires at the Mark Taper, and Great Day in the Morning (winner of a DramaLogue Best Play Award) at South Coast Repertory Co. He has also been produced in many other theaters throughout the United States, as well as in England, Ireland, Canada, Germany, and Holland. In the musical theater, he wrote the text for Twyla Tharp's When We Were Very Young and librettos for Call The Children Home (music and lyrics by Milred Kayden) and Tesla (music by Carson Kievman). He has been active in children's theater, creating a half-dozen pieces with and for kids from the 52nd Street Project, and Scared Silly for the Sundance Children's Theater Festival. He has also written for film and television. Mr. Babe was born and raised in upstate New York, went to Harvard and Yale Law School, and studied in England. He has received grants from the Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and CBS foundations and the NEA. He has lived for the past 19 years with the playwright Neal Bell. His daughter, Charissa, is a third-year student at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School.

Director: David Emmes
Set Designer: Gerard Howard
Lighting Designer: Peter Maradudin
Costume Designer: Walker Hicklin
Composer/Sound Designer: Michael Roth
Choreographer: Sylvia C. Turner
Featured Performers: Gloria Biegler, Michael Brian, Pamela Dunlap, Jane A. Johnston, Oceana Marr
Running Dates: February 19-March 28, 1993

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