Photos by Tim Fuller/The Arizona Theatre Company
Before there was Brad and Angie, and Tom and Katie, there was the power couple of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. OK, way way before. The Arizona Theatre Company‘s most recent production, “Ten Chimneys,” centers on the country’s most famous and highest-paid stage actors of the 1920s and ’30s and makes its world debut this Saturday, Feb. 19.
“Ten Chimneys,” written by Jeffrey Hatcher, humorously shares a slice of life from the actors’ lives off-stage — the place where, as many actors already know, the real drama often occurs. In the 1930s, Lunt and Fontanne were the most well-known and critically acclaimed stage actors in the country, and the couple insisted that they only act together, never appearing in separate plays.
In 1938, the husband and wife agreed to perform Anton Chekhov’s “The Sea Gull” and retreated beforehand to their Wisconsin estate, named Ten Chimneys, in order to rehearse. Also staying at the estate were other actors, family members and the “it” girl of the times, Uta Hagen, just 18 years old and assigned one of the starring roles in “The Seagull.” In Hatcher’s play, which paints a picture of this period in Lunt’s and Fontanne’s lifetimes, it isn’t long before a love triangle begins to form at Ten Chimneys — one which bears a resemblance to the events in Chekhov’s play — and, well, drama ensues.
Remarkably, the cast and crew of the Arizona Theatre Company’s production of “Ten Chimneys” rehearsed the play at the actual Ten Chimneys estate, now a historical landmark and legendary memorial to the arts. But they’re bringing it to the Herberger Theater in downtown Phoenix from Feb. 19 through March 6. Preview nights are Feb. 17 and 18.
“Ten Chimneys” is directed by David Ira Goldstein, and stars Anna Bullard as Uta Hagen, Suzanne Bouchard as Lynn Fontanne, and Steve Hendrickson as Alfred Lunt. For more information, including how to purchase tickets, visit ATC online here.
Herberger Theater Center is located at 222 E. Monroe St. in Phoenix 602.254.7399