Theatre luminary Lonny Price is no stranger to the East End, and he returns to Guild Hall on June 7 to direct the reprisal of the 1964 Broadway hit LUV.
“When the play opened in 1964, it was a huge success,” says Price. “It’s a play that I remembered from years ago, and it’s always been on my mind. And, it’s relevant today and relevant to me.”
LUV, which stars Obie-winner Robert Stanton, Ricardo Chavira of Desperate Housewives and emerging theatre personality Jennifer Regan, tells the story of two college friends who are reunited during a failed suicide attempt. In LUV, Milt stops Harry from jumping off of a bridge, and the two proceed to exchange their hilarious hard-luck stories of life and love. The play reaches new levels of absurdity when Milt realizes that Harry may be the perfect guy to marry his wife Ellen—and thus let him be with the girl he actually loves.
“The intention of this play is for the audience to sit back, relax and have a good time,” says Price.
“The show is spelled ‘L-U-V’ because of its perversion of real love,” says Price. “This play reflects the hypocrisy and passions of what love really is.”
Price is an actor, writer and director who has worked in various media. But, theatre is his self-proclaimed “drug of choice,” and Price is exclusively a director now.
“I just stopped liking it,” Price says of acting. Directing, however, has come to be Price’s niche, and he especially enjoys it when stage productions are filmed so that they are available to a wider audience. He strives to expose people from all over the world to theatre and enable them to learn about different aspects of the art.
Price began his foray into directing with the off-Broadway revival of The Education of H* Y* M* A* N K* A* P* L* A* N. He has since directed numerous Broadway and off-Broadway plays as well as several musical productions with the New York Philharmonic.
“My primary reason for doing a play is that is has to speak to me in some way,” says Price. “It has to have some relevance to today.”
LUV debuted in 1964 and it ran for 901 performances. It was hugely successful, as it earned a Tony Award nod in 1965 for Best Play and helped to solidify the careers of its three stars—Alan Arkin, Anne Jackson and Eli Wallach.
However, Price puts his own signature style on the Guild Hall revival, especially because there are no recordings of the Broadway original. He enjoys working with shows in various stages of production—from interfacing with writers to develop a new show to staging an already-established play and bringing it to life for a modern audience.
“A successful production is all about unity,” says Price. “The writer, director, actors—there has to be one vision, one team, one point of view that we’re all working toward.”
“I tend to like to work with people over and over again,” says Price. “You develop a trust.” Price names LUV’s Robert Lloyd Stanton and Steven Sondheim, a composer and lyricist, among his established production partners.
Price has consistently returned to the East End. While growing up, he stayed in East Hampton and in Montauk, and his family has a place in Quogue. He has directed at Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, and he will return to Guild Hall in July to read a new play.
But for now, LUV is on his mind.
“I think people are going to see themselves in this play and in the crazy characters,” says Price. “It will be a really fun time—a hilarious time to think about their own relationships and ideas of love.”
LUV will run Tuesdays – Sundays, June 7 – July 1. Guild Hall’s John Drew Theater, 158 Main Street, East Hampton. Call 631-324-0806 or visit www.guildhall.org.