Character Studies: Season 2, Episode 1

Living and Dying in 'Our Town' (Jul 28, 2007)

TV-PGTV Episode54 min.Drama
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A unique line-up of Oscar, Tony, Emmy and Golden Globe winners will star in a unique Character Studies documentary special, launching this summer, on PBS. Hosted by veteran stage and screen actor Eli Wallach, [whose distinguished career stretches back to 1945], the documentary about Thornton Wilder's classic Our Town will feature, among others, Frances Conroy [HBO's 'Six Feet Under'], Eric Stoltz ['Mask'], Cynthia Nixon [HBO's 'Sex and the City,' Broadway's 'Rabbit Hole'], James Naughton [Broadway's 'Chicago'], Stephen Spinella [Broadway's 'Angels in America'] and Paul Newman ['The Color of Money,' 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,' 'The Hustler']. "James Naughton directed the compelling revival of this great play at the Westport Country Playhouse, in Connecticut," explained Executive Producer Tony Vellela, "and then repeated his work when it transferred to Broadway, and then to a filmed version. All the actors have performed roles in Our Town on stage, or on film. For Character Studies, it signals the start of provocative and entertaining hour long documentaries, which take a fresh look at plays and musicals that have become part of the American cultural language." Nixon, who portrayed Emily in the Old Globe production in San Diego, points out that "we underestimate this play greatly. There are so many dark shadows amidst the soda-shop couple falling in love." To Stoltz, who played George on Broadway and on film, "Wilder, in his unadorned way, makes some shocking revelations about us, and what's wrong with how we live." For Newman, who played the Stage Manager in all versions directed by Naughton, it represented one of the most memorable stage experiences of his career. "I can't remember, even in monologues in [Tennessee Williams'] 'Sweet Bird of Youth,' when there was that kind of attention paid, and reverence. There was not a whisper. There was not a cough. There was not anything. People were riveted by this play." Written By Tony Vellela  Less

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