University of North Texas theater professor Marjorie Hayes said the world premiere of The Tall Boy is a coup for the university and for Denton.
“This is a real coup for us to get someone of Tandy Cronyn’s caliber — not to mention David Hammond and Simon Bent. This is really unparalleled,” said Hayes, who recently assumed the newly created position of managing director of UNT theater production.
The Tall Boy is co-produced by actress Tandy Cronyn, director David Hammond and writer Simon Bent.
UNT theater students are acting as the technical and running crew of the play.
“Usually, our students are doing shows that are scripted,” Hayes said. “The research has been done by the time they get to the play. For students, they want to know how playwrights arrived at the decisions they made. They get to see that process.”
Based on “The Lost,” a short story by Kay Boyle, the play is about Annie, the American matron of a Bavarian displaced persons camp for children after World War II. Annie relives the stories of three boys — a Czech, a Pole and an Italian — who had been taken in by American GIs during the war. The boys adopted the soldiers’ accents, clothing and mannerisms.
Cronyn performs all of the roles in the play. When the soldiers return to America, the three boys dream of going with them. Instead, they are placed at the camp. As Annie recalls the boys, she reveals American quirks and assumptions — some of which will make audiences wince.
Hammond is the former resident director for the American Conservatory Theatre and now serves as the arts division chairman at Guilford College in North Carolina. Bent is a top gun in the theater, and Hammond credits him as being a true dramatist.
Cronyn, the daughter of Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn, said the show is a testament to the resilience of children. Hammond said Bent’s script reaches deeper than that.
“Everything that is in this story is here with us today,” Hammond said. “The story is really Annie’s. She’s American, and she takes for granted a certain sense of infallibility.”
— Lucinda Breeding
THE TALL BOY
• What: One-woman play starring Tandy Cronyn, written by Simon Bent and directed by David Hammond
• When: 8 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday
• Where: Studio Theatre in UNT’s Radio, TV, Film and Performing Arts Building, at the corner of Welch and Chestnut streets
• Details: Tickets cost $10 for adults and $5 for students. For tickets, call 940-565-2428.