Stars Coming Out at Geffen

The Geffen Playhouse in Westwood, Calif., has released its schedule for the 2007-08 season, including starring vehicles for veteran actors Annette Bening, Christine Lahti, and Laurie Metcalf. The bill of fare, announced by producing director Gil Cates, includes two plays commissioned by the Geffen, the first time the company has mounted its commissioned works.

As previously announced, the mainstage season kicks off with the West Coast premiere of Third (Sept. 19-Oct. 21, 2007), the final play written by the late Wendy Wasserstein. It will feature Oscar winner Lahti in her third appearance as one of Wasserstein's protagonists. Maria Mileaf directs this drama, which examines the hypocrisy of a New England professor following the outbreak of the second Iraq war. Next up is the world premiere of Atlanta (Nov. 28-Dec. 30, 2007), a bluegrass-country musical with book by Grammy winner Marcus Hummon and Adrian Pasdar and score by Hummon, set at the end of the Civil War, and examining issues of patriotism and racial division. This show replaces the previously announced The Best Is Yet to Come: The Music of Cy Coleman, a new work by Larry Gelbart and David Zippel, which has been postponed for a later slot, to be announced.

Oscar nominee Bening, who previously appeared at the Geffen in Hedda Gabler in 1999, will star in Joanna Murray-Smith's comedy The Female of the Species (Feb. 13-March 16, 2008), about a feminist literary giant (Bening) and her encounter with a young female fan. A play for April 23-May 25, 2008, is to be announced. The Elephant in the Room (June 25-July 27, 2008), a world-premiere work by Pulitzer-winning playwright Donald Margulies (Dinner With Friends, Collected Stories), is the first commissioned play. It raises questions about our responsibility to loved ones and to less-fortunate strangers.

Two plays will be staged in the Geffen's intimate Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater. First up is writer-director Jane Anderson's Quality of Life (Oct. 10-Nov. 18, 2007), starring Ovation winner Metcalf, previously seen at the Geffen in Anderson's Looking for Normal and Arthur Miller's classic All My Sons. This commissioned play is about a married couple grieving the loss of their daughter. They clash with relatives facing crises of their own. Finally, writer-performer Daniel Beaty's Emergence-See! (dates to be announced) is about the reactions of 40 characters (all played by Beaty) to the miraculous appearance of a slave ship in front of the Statue of Liberty.

Apart from the season subscription offerings, the Geffen participates in Suzan-Lori Parks' nationwide 365 Days/365 Plays festival. Michael Hackett directs the short works to be performed during the week of Sept. 10, 2007. For more information, visit www.geffenplayhouse.com.