Yankee Wives, Written and Directed By David Rimmer

“Yankee Wives,” written and directed by David Rimmer (Pulitzer finalist for “Album,” author of “New York”) is a sexy, irreverent comedy that looks behind the scenes at six women thrown together because their husbands happen to play for the same Major League Baseball team. The play imagines the personalities behind their public, camera-ready smiles, revealing the nerve-wracking and often comic side of being married to “big babies with big egos” who rely on them for indispensable support. Ultimately, the play portrays how these women are transformed into a team-within-a-team, collectively enduring by tradition and necessity their husbands’ pressures, frailities, superstitions, disappointments and philanderings. Group Theatre Too will present the play’s New York premiere August 29 to September 15 at Hudson Guild Theater, 441 West 26th Street.

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LR: Eliza Simpson, McKenna Fox, Jennifer Laine Williams, Cristina Marie, (above) Chudney Sykes, (below) Samanthan Strelitz.

David Rimmer (Playwright/Director) is the author of “Album,” a play about the coming of age of two teenage couples during the turbulent sixties. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, enjoyed a long off-Broadway run and is published by Dramatists Play Service. It has has been steadily produced and reprinted in scene collections since its debut in 1980. He is also author of “New York,” a play of people telling 9/11 stories. Published by Samuel French, it has had many productions in this country and internationally. Rimmer’s other plays include “Nobody Dies,” about the 60’s generation the day after college graduation in 1970, “The Reunion Guy,” a comedy-drama about a guy who goes to other peoples’ reunions over 75 years, and many one-act plays. He has written screenplays and television scripts for major studios including Disney, Universal, Twentieth-Century Fox and Viacom. He wrote the first screenplay for “Tron” and contributed to the sitcom series “Charles in Charge.” Current writing projects include “Bump” (a novel for young adults, which he’s recently adapted for the stage) and screenplays for his plays “Nobody Dies” and “Album,” which he also adapted and directed as a short film (showcased at film festivals in NYC and Iowa). He has directed five of his own plays and many plays by other authors. Rimmer graduated cum laude from Amherst during the Vietnam era. He lives on the Upper East Side with his wife, Ellen Sandhaus, who collaborates frequently with him on film and TV projects.

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LR: Samanthan Strelitz, Jennifer Laine Williams, Chudney Sykes, Eliza Simpson.

Rimmer was inspired to write a fictional play on Yankee wives (and their offstage fictional husbands) by watching the real Bronx Bombers on TV in the 1970s. As telecasts cut away to the Yankee wives in the stands, Rimmer began wondering what their lives were like. “I realized they were an alternate family,” he says. “My impression was that these women were more than connected. They spend more time with each other than with anybody else because no one else is there for them.” He was struck by the insularity of their existence. “It’s a cloistered society – no one else knows what it’s like. Their husbands are like sailors – away from home all the time. They are gallivanting like rock stars while they are on the road, but always needing to know there’s a wife and family back home.”

In writing the play, Rimmer imagined himself as a fly on the wall in the Wives’ Lounge at Yankee Stadium, conjuring the clubhouse life of an improbable group of eye-catching, high-spirited women who need to coexist under the rules of the house that Ruth built. These include “turn a blind eye when your man’s on the road” and “guys don’t mess around with other guys’ wives, and vice-versa.” Later, he met several real-life baseball wives who confirmed the play’s truthfulness, saying it was like he had eavesdropped on their private conversations.

An early version of the play premiered at the Old Globe Theater Main Stage in San Diego in 1982, directed by Jack O’Brien. A rewritten version was presented at Two Roads Theater in Los Angeles in 1990. Variety (Farb.) cheered the piece as dynamic and resonating with truth, writing “Rimmer has chosen his characters well and developed plot lines that allow for strong dramatic tension, as well as an abundance of lampooning….He plays up the comic side of baseball wifehood while exposing the frayed nerves and competitive personalities that lie just below the smiling surface.” The play was described as falling “somewhere between the dreamy mythology of ‘Pride of the Yankees’ and the sexy irreverence of ‘Bull Durham.'” It has been further revised for this NY premiere.

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Jennifer Laine Williams as Sally, the queen bee of the Yankee wives.

“Yankee Wives” will be performed by Jennifer Laine Williams, Samantha Strelitz, Cristina Marie, McKenna Fox, Chudney Sykes and Eliza Simpson. Set design is by Allison McGrath, Lighting design is by Ian Edward Smith. Costume design is by Ramona Ponce. Sound design is by Matthew P. Morris. Fight choreography is by Dan Renkin.

The Group Theatre Too (Producer) was founded in 2003 by Artistic Director Michael Blevins and Executive Producer Justin Boccitto. Past productions have included: the New York revival of “Seesaw,” “Count To Ten” (2009 NYMF), “Tape,” “Vanities,” “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” “Love Letters,” “The Boyfriend,” “The Subject Was Roses” and two plays by David Rimmer, “Album” and “New York.” Annually GTT presents The Choreographer’s Canvas, an evening of choreography from all styles of dance. GTT also produced MAC Award Winner Alisa Schiff in “Mama Said … The Songs of Cass Elliott.” Generation Tap, GTT’s tap company, has appeared at Tap City, Tap Extravaganza, The United Nations, and Circle in the Square and was featured in Dancer and Dance Spirit Magazines. Seen by over 5,000 school students, GTT’s social awareness play, “Aftermath,” is now available for performance through Heuer Publishing. (www.grouptheatretoo.org).

The show will be running from August 29 to September 15, 2013 at The Hudson Guild Theater, 441 W. 26th Street (between 9th and 10th Ave.) Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM, Sundays at 2:00 PM except: Thursday, August 29 at 7:00 (preview) and Thursday, September 12 at 6:30 (industry night).It is presented by Group Theatre Too in association with Ellen Sandhaus. Show’s website: www.yankeewives.com The general admission is $18, $15 for seniors and students.

To purchase tickets – call: (212) 868-4444 or you can buy tickets online at Smarttix.com or www.yankeewives.com Running time: 1:45 (including intermission).

Jonathan Slaff
Jonathan Slaff writes on cultural events from the brainy, the edgy and the good. He helps us keep ahead of the curve in the world of the arts and culture.