Guild Hall Hosts Virtual Staged Reading ‘Portrait of Tennessee’ on May 16

(clockwise) Harris Yulin, Mercedes Ruehl, Ebon Moss-Bachrach and Tedra Millan
(clockwise) Harris Yulin, Mercedes Ruehl, Ebon Moss-Bachrach and Tedra Millan, Photos: ©PATRICKMCMULLAN

Just because we’re keeping our social distance right now, doesn’t mean we can’t come together (virtually, of course) to enjoy new shows produced by our favorite East End performing arts centers, all of which were forced to cancel upcoming live performances two months ago. On Saturday, May 16, four stellar actors are joining forces for a spectacular theatrical event to benefit Guild Hall’s John Drew Theater.

Harris Yulin will direct a live staged reading of Portrait of Tennessee: The Words of Tennessee Williams, a new project artfully arranged by Yulin and Jack Canfora, scripted entirely from Williams’s essays, letters, journals and plays. He is joined “onstage” by Mercedes Ruehl, Ebon Moss-Bachrach and Tedra Millan. The evening will shine a light on the brilliance of one of America’s most impactful playwrights and will treat viewers to an intimate, once-in-a-lifetime experience with stars of Broadway, television and film.

“We start at the beginning of his writing, when he was just 14, and progress through time to Tennessee coming to terms with himself as a man and as an artist, at a time when the world didn’t seem terribly interested in art,” Yulin said in a release. “Tennessee writes a lot about isolation, even physical isolation and right now we all have that in common. It’s an opportunity to present that burden in him and align it now with kindred souls.”

Yulin has starred in a staggering number of Broadway, international theater, television and film roles, appearing in everything from Hamlet, Frost/Nixon and Death of a Salesman to Ozark, Scarface and even Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. He has also directed successful productions such as Tennessee William’s The Glass Menagerie and Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful, which received four Lucille Lortel Awards.

Ruehl is another champion of both song and stage, appearing in films including The Fisher King and Married to the Mob and Broadways shows such as Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? and Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers. Moss-Bachrach is known for television roles in NOS4A2, Punisher and Girls, as well as his role in Yulin’s production of The Glass Menagerie. And Guild Hall patrons will surely remember Millan from the summer 2019 production of Jules Feiffer’s A Bad Friend, which she worked on alongside Yulin and Ruehl.

“Guild Hall has so much enormous potential to do what I like, which is make theater,” Yulin added in the statement. “I’m so happy to collaborate with Mercedes, who is one of the greatest actors in America; with Ebon who was superb as Tom in The Glass Menagerie; and Tedra who was wonderful in last year’s production of Feiffer’s A Bad Friend.”

The two-hour Portrait of Tennessee: The Words of Tennessee Williams event runs 8–10 p.m. on Saturday, May 16, beginning with the staged reading and concluding with an audience Q&A led by Yulin. This is a pay-what-you-can Zoom event, with ticket prices ranging from $0–$100.

Visit guildhall.org for tickets and more information.

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