Heidi Schreck’s Tony-nominated play and Pulitzer Prize finalist What the Constitution Means to Me has announced a national 22-city tour that will launch in Los Angeles at the Mark Taper Forum during January 2020. The tour will mark the first time the play with be presented without the playwright performing the leading role.
The 40-week tour will include engagements in Charlotte, NC, Hartford, CT, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, with a full schedule of venues and dates, as well as casting, to be announced at a later date.
Directed by Oliver Butler, Broadway’s Constitution in in the running for two Tony Awards (Best Play, Best Leading Actress/play) and was named a Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Drama. The play — which primarily consists of Schreck’s solo turn performing a largely autobiographical tale, with two supporting players occasionally joining in — received overwhelmingly positive critical support following its Off Broadway debut last fall and its subsequent transfer to Broadway’s Helen Hayes Theater.
“When I set out to adapt my personal history with the Constitution into a play, I could never have anticipated how widely it would resonate with audiences,” said Schreck in announcing the tour. “I’ve been deeply moved by the stories audience members have shared with me in reaction to the play, so it’s an honor to have the opportunity to share the piece with audiences nationwide.”
Schreck said she is “especially excited to work with [director] Oliver to invite a new performer into the leading role, which open up its perspective further and allow it to remain a vital, living piece of theater.”
The absence of Schreck from the stage, though, could prove at least a tricky marketing dilemma for tour producers Diana DiMenna, Aaron Glick, Matt Ross, and Level Forward & Eva Price. The play itself has been much praised, as it ingeniously uses Schreck’s real life (including her student-days involvement in debate competitions, hence the title) as a launching pad to examine American history, current events and sweeping topics such as liberty, freedom and identity.
But equally lauded has been Schreck’s performance, a charming and incisive tour de force and all but a master class in winning as audience from the get-go. The notion of a Schreck-less Constitution might seem unimaginable to anyone who has already seen the play — which, of course, does not include the majority of potential ticket buyers along the tour route.
In today’s tour announcement, producers said Schreck and Butler “will work closely to interpolate new cast members into the play in a unique and exciting way that matches the play’s blend of the personal and the universal.”
The Broadway production, which began previews at the Hayes on March 14, was initially set for a 12-week engagement through June 9, but has been extended twice and will now play through August 24.