The Heidi Chronicles

The Heidi Chronicles is a 1988 play by Wendy Wasserstein. The play won the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

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Production history

A workshop production at Seattle Repertory Theatre was held in April 1988, directed by Daniel J. Sullivan.

The play premiered off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons on November 18, 1988 and closed on February 19, 1989 after 99 performances. It then transferred to Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre, opening on March 9, 1989 and closing on September 1, 1990, after 622 performances. Both productions were directed by Sullivan, with a cast that starred Joan Allen as Heidi, Boyd Gaines as Peter, and Peter Friedman as Scoop. Sarah Jessica Parker was featured in three small roles off-Broadway; those roles were played by Cynthia Nixon for the Broadway run.

Replacement actors on Broadway included Christine Lahti, Brooke Adams, and Mary McDonnell as Heidi, David Hyde Pierce as Peter, and Tony Shalhoub as Scoop.

Two Broadway Heidis married the actor who played opposite them as Scoop: Joan Allen and Peter Friedman (now divorced) and Brooke Adams and Tony Shalhoub.

The first major production mounted after Wasserstein's death in January 2006 was at the Berkshire Theatre Festival during the summer of 2006.

Plot synopsis

The plot follows Heidi Holland from high school in the 1960s to her career as a successful art historian more than twenty years later. The play's main themes deal with the changing role of women during this time period, describing both Heidi's ardent feminism during the 1970s and her eventual sense of betrayal during the 1980s. Though most of the characters are women, there are two important male characters; Peter Patrone, a gay pediatrician who is arguably Heidi's best friend, and Scoop Rosenbaum, a magazine editor who marries and has many affairs, and with whom Heidi has a tense friendship.

Critical responses

The New York Times critic Mel Gussow wrote of the Playwrights Horizon production: "Ms. Wasserstein has always been a clever writer of comedy. This time she has been exceedingly watchful about not settling for easy laughter, and the result is a more penetrating play. This is not to suggest, however, that The Heidi Chronicles is ever lacking in humor."[1]

Film adaptation

In 1995, the play was adapted as a television film. It was directed by Paul Bogart and starred Jamie Lee Curtis and Tom Hulce in the leading roles.

Awards and nominations

Tony Award
  • Best Play (winner)
  • Best Actress in a Play (Allen) (nominee)
  • Best Featured Actor in a Play (Gaines) (winner)
  • Best Featured Actress in a Play (Joanne Camp)(nominee)
  • Best Scenic Design (Thomas Lynch)(nominee)
  • Best Direction of a Play (nominee)
Drama Desk Award
  • Best New Play (winner)
  • Outstanding Actor in a Play (Friedman)
  • Outstanding Actress in a Play (Allen) (nominee)
  • Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play (Joanne Camp)(nominee)
  • Outstanding Director of a Play (nominee)
  • Outstanding Set Design (nominee)
New York Drama Critics Circle
  • Best Play (winner)

References

  1. Gussow, Mel."Review/Theater; A Modern-Day Heffalump in Search of Herself",The New York Times, December 18, 1988