by David Bucknam
directed by Alan Souza
originally produced at New Jersey Repertory Co, Long Branch, NY.
July 12,2008 through August 17, 2008
Dorothy Parker was one of the most popular writers in America during the Roaring Twenties and was a founder of the Algonquin Round Table in New York City, a gathering of writers, critics and actors that included Robert Benchley, George S. Kaufman, Robert Sherwood, Alexander Woollcott, Edna Ferber, and Harpo Marx. Its loose-knit members met daily at the famed Algonquin Hotel starting in 1919, and strongly influenced many of America’s most prominent writers including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.
The Little Hours is full of Parkers trademark wit and acid observations of others and is coupled with the beautiful music and lyrics of David Bucknam. It is an insightful and moving adaptation that combines a whimsical mix of music, comedy and drama.
Act I is based on four stories: A Telephone Call, The Waltz, From the Diary of a New York Lady, and The Little Hours. We eavesdrop on the lives of four women: one hiding in the shadows at a dance afraid to be trampled on by a heavy-footed admirer, another awaiting a phone call from her heart’s desire, the third, a high-society woman writing in her diary, and the fourth, an insomniac in the throes of sleeplessness.
Act II, draws upon Ms. Parker’s well-known short-story, Such a Pretty Little Picture. We meet the Wheelock family’s hen-pecked patriarch, George, who escapes from his sterile life through his rapturous fantasies while he trims his hedges. In his mind he re-imagines his wife, daughter and his neighbor in a series of hilarious and poignant scenarios that fulfill his wildest and darkest dreams.
The Little Hours not only provides us with the opportunity to premiere a new musical that adapts Dorothy Parker's work and esthetics, but to present it in Long Branch, the town where she was born. Her birthplace is located five minutes from our theater and the play is scheduled to coincide with Long Branch's Annual Dorothy Parker Day festivities. The musical captures the primary undercurrent and theme that exists in all her work-the seemingly irreconcilable breach that exists between men and women and the constant longing to heal that breach.