Paula Vogel’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “How I Learned to Drive” will make debut on Broadway, 23 years after its Off-Broadway premiere. And its original main cast and director will return for the occasion.
Tony Award winner Mary-Louise Parker and Tony nominee David Morse, who originated the roles of Li’l Bit and Uncle Peck in 1997, will reprise those parts under the guidance of returning director Mark Brokaw. Though much time has past, keeping the cast and crew the same fits the structure of the show. Vogel’s memory play follows Li’l Bit as she retraces her complicated relationship with her charismatic uncle, who sexually abused her. Using the device of driving lessons, the drama jumps in time from Li’l Bit’s youth to her adolescence through to her adulthood.
The rest of the cast, a three-part Greek Chorus, has yet to be announced. In the 1997 run, that chorus included Michael Showalter of “Wet Hot American Summer” fame and two-time Tony nominee Johanna Day, who also co-starred with Parker in the 2001 Broadway production of David Auburn’s “Proof.”
The revival of “How I Learned To Drive” will premiere in a production by Manhattan Theatre Club on April 22, 2020.
With the new production, Vogel, whose long career has played out mainly in Off-Broadway and in regional theaters, makes her second appearance on the Great White Way. Her first was her 2017 Tony-nominated “Indecent,” a reflection on the 1923 production of the scandalous Yiddish play “God of Vengeance.” As Vogel noted at the time, women playwrights and directors are dramatically underrepresented on Broadway. These two Broadway productions will take Vogel halfway to the current record for a living female playwright, now Theresa Rebeck, who has had four of her plays produced on Broadway.
PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture fellow. He can be reached at email@example.com