Side Man

By Warren Leight

Directed by D. Scott Glasser

Jazz riffs and family rifts collide in a son's story of his gifted but remote musician father, his loving but emotionally unstable mother, and the idiosyncratic jazz musicians that live their lives outside the bounds of a middle-class respectability. Side Man is both the story of a fractured family and an elegy for the big band era, a time when jazz was America's pop music and musicians had no shortage of Saturday night gigs.

Spanning the years 1953 &endash; 1985, Clifford recalls key moments in his life, such as the day when, fresh out of college, he picked up his first unemployment check and was congratulated by Gene and his band mates. Gene's music career on the big band circuit ultimately crumbles with the advent of Elvis and rock-n-roll. Terry begs him to get a 9-to-5 job to support the family, but Gene refuses to enter the "straight world" of regular paychecks, mortgages, and security. For Gene, music is not just a job; it's his life. As their marriage slowly dissolves, Clifford assumes the role of parent to his parents.

Side Man won the 1999 Tony Award for Best Play, the 1998 Oppenheimer Award, and the George & Elisabeth Marton Playwriting Award. It is loosely based on playwright Warren Leight's own family and experiences.

Rep Artistic Director D. SCOTT GLASSER will direct the production. Glasser said, "Side Man is a tribute to a unique American phenomenon -- the jazz musicians who traveled from band to band disappearing into the ensembles. While the instruments are not played on the stage, Side Man is suffused with the humor, excitement, and passion of jazz music."

Produced by The Rep

Presented at the Madison Civic Center in the Isthmus Playhouse.

October 27 - November 19, 2000

Oct 27

8:00 pm

Oct 28

5 and 8:30 pm

Oct 29

1:30* and 5:00 pm

Nov. 1

7:30 pm

Nov. 2

7:30 pm

Nov. 3

8:00 pm

Nov. 4

5 and 8:30 pm

Nov. 5

1:30 and 5:00 pm

Nov. 8

7:30 pm*

Nov. 9

7:30 pm


8:00 pm

Nov. 11

5 and 8:30 pm

Nov. 15

7:30 pm

Nov. 16

7:30 pm

Nov. 17

8:00 pm

Nov. 18

5 and 8:30 pm

Nov. 19

5:00 pm

*audience discussion

Tickets are $27 for Friday and Saturday performances and $22 for Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday performances. Tickets are on sale at the Madison Civic Center Ticket Office, 211 State Street, or may be ordered by phone at (608) 266-9055. For information on group discounts, call Madison Rep at 256-0029 x13.


The Cast

BENJAMIN SUMMERS plays Clifford, the narrator, and PETER MORSE plays his trumpeter father, Gene. ANNE FOGARTY, previously seen at the Rep in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Hauptmann, plays Gene's volatile wife, Terry. Other members of the ensemble are RUSS BENTON as Al, TERRY HEMPLEMAN as Jonesy, TED TYSON as Ziggy, and OLIVIA D. DAWSON as Patsy.

The design team for Side Man includes NAYNA RAMEY, scenery; MARY WALDHART, costumes; JOHN G. FRAUTSCHY, lights; and JACK SAYRE, sound. The production stage manager is MEGHAN GAUGER.

The Playwright

Warren Leight's plays include The Loop and Stray Cats. He also wrote the book for the musical Mayor (Drama Desk nomination) and High-Heeled Women Cabaret Act (Outer Circle Critics Award). His one act plays have been performed at the Atlantic Theatre Company, Naked Angels, Circle Rep, and New York Stage and Film. Side Man was his first play to be produced on Broadway. It won the 1999 Tony Award for Best Play, the 1998 Oppenheimer Award, and the George & Elisabeth Marton Playwriting Award.