NEW YORK (AP) — Kenneth Lonergan has gone a little bit country in his latest play, "Hold on to Me Darling," a comedy that will make its world premiere at the off-Broadway Atlantic Theater Company.
"Like a lot of my plays, it's something I started writing in bits and pieces a long time ago. Some fall away and turn into nothing and others stick around and become plays," said Lonergan. "This is one of the latter."
The play is about a film star and country-western singer who goes through a personal crisis after the death of his mother. "It's not so much about the country-western world as it is about this one particular character," said the playwright, who is a fan of Loretta Lynn and Hank Williams.
Performances begin Feb. 24 under the direction of Neil Pepe, the Atlantic's artistic director who has been a friend of the playwright since the mid-1980s. Collaborating was always something they talked about and wanted to do. Pepe said "Hold on to Me Darling" has Lonergan's "trademark intelligence, wit and great sense of story."
"I'm really excited to finally be working with a writer who I've always admired," said Pepe. "I think it's a fascinating play because I think at its core it's an exploration of celebrity. In my mind, it's a wonderfully American story about both the satisfaction of success and the disillusionment of celebrity."
Lonergan has written several other plays, most notably "This is Our Youth," ''Lobby Hero" and "The Waverly Gallery." He made his film debut with "You Can Count On Me" and had a follow-up with "Margaret." He also contributed to the screenplays of "Gangs of New York" and "Analyze That."
"Kenny is such a wonderful and unique American writer," said Pepe. "He's got such an acute ear for the essence of American character and dialogue and he has the ability to both subtlety and forcefully get underneath what it means to be an American."
For his part, Lonergan said "Hold on to Me Darling" is a bit funnier than his other works. "I think every play that I've ever written has been described as a comedy and I never figured them as comedies, except for 'Medieval Play,' which nobody else liked but me," he said. "I would describe this play as a comedy. At least I hope it's funny."
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