Whether you know him as the Emmy-winning star of The Newsroom, one of the two title characters in the Dumb and Dumber movie franchise or the latest incarnation of Atticus Finch in the current hit Broadway production of To Kill a Mockingbird, there’s no denying that Jeff Daniels is a versatile and talented actor. What fewer people know about him is the fact that he’s also a gifted playwright – as well as prolific, already having written a dozen dramas for the Purple Rose Theatre Company that he founded in his childhood hometown of Chelsea, Michigan. (The troupe gets its name from the 1985 Woody Allen movie that gave Daniels his first-ever starring role on the big screen, The Purple Rose of Cairo.)
Ten years ago, Ellenville’s Shadowland Stages staged a production of one of Daniels’ earlier plays, Guest Artist, starring John Astin. Now Shadowland is about to become only the second theatrical venue in the country to stage Daniels’ latest play, Flint, which had its world premiere at the Purple Rose in 2018. It opens on Friday, September 13, and runs through September 29.
Word has it that Daniels was working on a comedy, but set it aside for something more serious and topical after a conversation with gadfly documentarian and fellow Michigander Michael Moore. The result is a searing drama about two couples in Flint, Michigan – one black, one white – whose lives have been upended by the closure of the local automobile plant where both men had worked. The action occurs in 2014, just as the scandal of the as-yet-unresolved Flint water crisis is about to break. Drinking the poisoned tapwater are characters portrayed by Brendan Burke, LeeAnne Hutchison, Brandon Rubin and Jammie Patton, under the direction of James Glossman, whose voluminous previous work at Shadowland has included the abovementioned Guest Artist and last year’s US premiere of John Cleese’s Bang Bang!
See the American Dream unravel Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets for Flint cost $31 for previews, $39 for evening performances and $34 for matinées. To order, call (845) 647-5511 or visit https://shadowlandstages.org/2019-season/flint.
Thursday-Sunday, Sept. 13-29, 8 p.m./2 p.m.
157 Canal St., Ellenville