Theater and television royalty arrived on stage at the Dorset Theatre. Tyne Daly is known for her Tony Award-winning role in Gypsy, and for her portrayal of Mary Beth Lacey in television's female buddy drama, Cagney and Lacey. She earned four Emmys. She has just finished a run as Irene in the world premiere of Downstairs, the inaugural play in the Dorset Theatre's 40th anniversary season.
John Procaccino, Tyne Daly, Tim Daly in Downstairs
It is the first time Tyne Daly has shared the stage with her brother, actor Tim Daly, who currently plays the role of Henry McCord in the CBS drama Madame Secretary. Downstairs was written for the two Dalys by Theresa Rebeck; they play siblings, Irene and Teddy, in the production. John Procaccino, a stage and television actor who has appeared in numerous mega-hit dramas like Law and Order, The Good Wife, and The Americans, plays Gerry, Irene's husband.
Downstairs is 90 minutes of gripping theater. Tyne Daly gives her expected nuanced performance of a woman who painfully works to take back her power. Tim Daly's Teddy is endearing, frail, and funny. The set is an imaginatively dreary basement in Irene's home, where a disturbed Teddy has come to regroup, much to his sister's initial dismay. Through the telling of stories both past and present, the two draw closer, and soon it is Irene who seems to be unraveling. Gerry, an absent presence until his appearance halfway through the drama, is mean and manipulative. No spoilers here as to whether he actually gets his comeuppance, but the audience's prayers for it were palpable.
The play's run at the Dorset has just concluded, but this production is too good to shelve. Surely it will be headed elsewhere, and soon.
Vermont roots run deep in this group. Tim Daly graduated from the Putney School and Bennington College. Tyne Daly has often visited her brother at his farm near Dorset. Rebeck lives in Brooklyn but summers in the Dorset area. Both Tim Daly and Procaccino are well-known to Dorset Theater regulars as both actors have appeared in several of the theater's productions.
The summer season at the Dorset consists of three more full productions and some staged readings of two new plays. Next up is Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery starring Liz Wisan as a female Sherlock Holmes. The Legend of Georgia McBride, a music-filled comedy, follows. David Mamet's American Buffalo with actor Treat Williams will conclude the season. Controversy has surrounded Mamet recently. Apparently known for prohibiting talkbacks after his plays, he threatened to fine a Detroit-area theater $25,000 when he learned of its intention to host one. Some in the theater community support Mamet and believe that playwrights should be able to place any restrictions they want on the use of their work, while others want Mamet "to get over himself." A third point of view accepts that Mamet has the right to do what he wants, but suggests that theaters simply refrain from producing his work. Finally, there are those who find talkbacks awkward and favor the "European custom" of simply allowing the audience to find their way to the nearest bar--often in the theater lobby--to talk amongst themselves.
For Upper Valley residents who are feeling the absence of Northern Stage during the summer, the Dorset Theatre awaits. It is an relatively easy 80 mile drive from Lebanon NH, south on I-91 to Springfield VT, west on Route 11 to Manchester, and then a 10-minute drive to the Dorset Playhouse. If you want to make a night of it, there are several inns in the town of Dorset that are within walking distance of the theater. Manchester has the historic Equinox Resort and the new Kimpton Hotel, the Taconic. Hildene, the Lincoln summer home and gardens, is nearby for sightseeing.
For dates and times of plays and to purchase tickets, please contact the Dorset Theatre through its website.
(Photographs by Gerry Goodstein, used by permission of the Dorset Theatre)
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Susan B. Apel, writer, ArtfulEdge