“Balm in Gilead”

Jonathan Berry will direct Lanford Wilson’s “Balm in Gilead” for Griffin Theatre.

Griffin Theatre is clearly making no small plans. Not only is it opening its fall season with the musical “Titanic” (to be staged at Theater Wit, 1225 W. Belmont), but it has just announced that its second production will be “Balm in Gilead,” Lanford Wilson’s grand-scale tale of the denizens of a Manhattan greasy spoon — a show that requires a cast of 27 actors and musicians.

Jonathan Berry (“Golden Boy,” “Look Back in Anger”), will direct the production of this play (that put Steppenwolf Theatre on the New York map back in the early 1980s) at The Den Theatre, 1329-1333 N. Milwaukee. (The Den is a grittier space than Theater Wit and is a better fit for the play’s subject matter. It also will allow for more intense actor and audience interaction). The show will run March 14-Aprl 19, 2015. Casting will be announced soon.

Wilson’s play, set in 1964, homes in on Frank’s café, an all-night coffee shop on Manhattan’s Upper West Side frequented by a makeshift community of dealers, junkies, hustlers, prostitutes, dreamers and runaways. It loosely centers on Joe, a cynical drug dealer, and Darlene, a naive new arrival to the big city, whose lives intersect over the course of three days. Griffin previously produced two of Wilson’s plays — “The Hot L Baltimore” (in 1990) and “Fifth of July” (in 2003).

Single tickets will go on sale Dec. 1 at www.griffintheatre.com.

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