Zach Theatre Lands Terrence McNally World Premiere

Tony-winning playwright revises Fire and Air into new drama

Zach Theatre was happy enough to be presenting the second-ever staging of a Terrence McNally play when it added Fire and Air to its 2018-19 season. But in anticipation of the production, the playwright has done so many rewrites on the drama that he now considers it a new play, which means Zach is producing its world premiere.

Terrence McNally at the Ransom Center screening of Every Act of Life on Sept. 11, 2018 (Photo by Charles Quinn)

Immortal Longings, as the work will now be known, still concerns the flamboyant impresario Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev and his relationship with Vaslav Nijinsky, the sensational superstar of his troupe, Les Ballets Russes. But we’ll have to wait until June to see how it differs from Fire and Air as it ran at the Classics Stage Company in New York in 2018.

Logo for Zach Theatre’s production of Immortal Longings

Zach’s press release regarding the change offers no clues, only this comment from McNally himself: “When we performed the play at CSC, it was very much a work in progress. Few plays are flawless at their world premiere. Plays are not written, they are re-written. I knew in New York that the play was not finished to my satisfaction, and I was grateful when Zach invited me to finish my work on the play with a new director, a new cast, and most importantly, a new text.”

That new cast for the Zach world premiere – which begins previews June 15 and runs June 20-July 14 – has yet to be announced, but the new director has been: He’s Minneapolis-based Peter Rothstein, an acclaimed theatre artist who has staged productions for the Guthrie Theater, Minnesota Opera, Children’s Theatre Company, Ten Thousand Things, and his own company, Theatre Latté Da.

While we’re waiting for this new drama from the four-time Tony Award winner (for the plays Love! Valour! Compassion! and Master Class, and the books for musicals Ragtime and Kiss of the Spider Woman – three of which Zach has produced), it’s worth remembering that McNally’s archives are held at the University of Texas’ Ransom Center, just waiting for curious fans to dig into them. And that Every Act of Life, Jeff Kaufman’s documentary about the playwright – screened at the Ransom Center during the Zach’s 80th birthday celebration for McNally last fall, as well as at the 2018 All Genders, Lifestyles, and Identities Film Festival in Austin – is available to rent on iTunes, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, and Vudu.

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Zach Theatre, Terrence McNally, Ransom Center

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