On Friday, August 28th at 7 PM, Actors & Writers will present a staged reading of Middle of the Night, a play by Paddy Chayefsky, at the Maverick Concert Hall in Woodstock.
A prolific writer of live TV dramas, plays and films, Chayefsky wrote the screenplays for Marty, The Hospital and Network and won Oscars for all of them. He is the only person to win three solo Academy Awards for screenwriting.
Middle of the Night, Chayefsky’s first Broadway success in 1956, is the story of an unlikely romance between a middle-aged widower and a much younger woman which stirs up a storm among a large ensemble cast of family and friends. It is wonderfully truthful, funny and moving.
The cast of Middle of the Night features Actors & Writers favorites David Smilow, Dannah Chaifetz, Shelley Wyant, Katherine Burger, Brian Popovics, Joe White and Mary Gallagher, and guest actress Jeanne Michels, whose credits range from the national tour of To Be Young, Gifted and Black, to seasons with the famous and much beloved Paper Bag Players. The reading will be directed by Mary Gallagher, who said this about the play:
“I know Chayefsky’s screen work very well, but I didn’t know this play at all until I saw a production of it in New York recently. I was fascinated and moved by the tremendous skill and seeming artlessness of Chayefsky’s language. It is so unforced and natural that, to paraphrase one critic, “It sounds like people talking on the telephone.” This utter realism of language is also utterly truthful in revealing the characters in more and more depth as the story is developed. The central characters are a man and a woman, thirty years apart in age, who find themselves drawn into a romantic relationship. This creates tremendous conflict within each of them and between them, and much more conflict with their respective families and within those families. All of the characters are rich, complex, decent people who say what they think and feel with a bluntness and fullness that reminds me of Chekhov — naturalistic writing at its greatest. When you leave the theatre, you almost feel that you really could call them on the phone.”
Sidney Aaron “Paddy” Chayefsky (1923 – 1981) was born in The Bronx to Ukrainian-Jewish parents. He grew up in New York and went to DeWitt Clinton High School, City College and Fordham. He served in World War II, where he received a Purple Heart and the nickname Paddy, which he got when he escaped kitchen duty by claiming that he had to go to Mass. His passion was writing drama in many forms, and he achieved his first great success in the Golden Age of live television drama. His TV screenplays included Marty, starring Rod Steiger and Nancy Marchand, which became the classic movie of the same name, starring Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Drake. Middle of the Night also began on television, moved to Broadway in a hit production starring Edward G. Robinson and Gena Rowlands, and was adapted by Chayefsky as a movie starring Frederic March and Kim Novak.
The Maverick Concert Hall, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary of live performance, is at 120 Maverick Road, Woodstock, NY, 12498. Please note A&W’s early start time of 7 PM. Admission is by donation at the door.
Featured image: Actors & Writers by Geoff Harden
Seated: Carol Morley, Mikhail Horowitz, Joe White, Davis Hall
Second row: Shelley Wyant, John Seidman
Third row: Katherine Burger, Mary Gallagher, Nina Shengold, Sarah Chodoff, Nicole Quinn, Brian Popovics
Back row: Carey Harrison, Adam LeFevre, Mark St. Germain