New York’s major Public Broadcasting Service station, WNET-13, will begin presenting Theater Close-Up, a weekly series of top-tier off-Broadway shows, on October 2. Sigourney Weaver, a screen star with deep ties to the New York stage — her most recent appearance having been in the 2013 Tony-winning Christopher Durang comedy Vanya And Sonia And Masha And Spike — will host the initial run of plays through November 27. The show will be broadcast at 9 PM Thursdays and have two repeats — on Sunday following Masterpiece Theatre and at 10:30 PM Mondays on sister public station WLIW-21.
Focusing on intimate, small-scale productions, the series will kick off with John Van Druten’s London Wall from the Mint Theater Company, a highly regarded specialist in little-known plays from the past, given meticulous, well-cast stagings. Among the other shows featured is the tiny Flea Theater premiere of The Vandal, by the actor Hamish Linklater (The Crazy Ones, The New Adventures Of Old Christine), starring Dierdre O’Connell, Zach Grenier (The Good Wife) and Noah Robbins.
Theater Close-Up, which is only licensed for local broadcast, also will feature the Public Theater’s tetralogy of works by Richard Nelson under the umbrella title The Apple Family Plays, an extraordinarily powerful and intimate portrait of the four adult Apple siblings and a few others, set in real time on four successive, significant days in recent history,at the family homestead in the Hudson Valley hamlet of Rhinebeck. The cast, brilliantly directed by the playwright, includes Maryann Plunkett, Jay O. Sanders, Laila Robins, Jon DeVries and Sally Murphy.
Theater Close-Up is a production of Thirteen Productions LLC for WNET, in collaboration with the presenting theaters. The plays were directed for television by David Horn. Mitch Owgang is producer; Bill O’Donnell is series producer; and David Horn is executive producer. Executive-in-charge is WNET chief Neal Shapiro.