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‘Roses’ Play Is a Family Affair

Tue, 05/21/2024 - 12:00
Scott Wittman, John Slattery, Talia Balsam, and Harry Slattery, from left, took a break from rehearsal for “The Subject Was Roses.”
Tricia Baron

“The Subject Was Roses,” Frank D. Gilroy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, will begin previews on Tuesday at Sag Harbor’s Bay Street Theater, with a red-carpet premiere set for June 1. The production stars the real-life family of John Slattery, Talia Balsam, and their son, Harry Slattery, who have had a house in Springs for many years.

John Slattery (who played Roger Sterling in “Mad Men”) will star as John Cleary. Ms. Balsam (who played his wife, Mona, on “Mad Men”) is Nettie Cleary, and Harry Slattery plays Timmy Cleary. Scott Wittman, a Tony, Grammy, and Olivier Award-winning lyricist, director, and writer, will direct.

Set in a Bronx apartment in 1946, “The Subject of Roses,” which won two Tony Awards, is about the emotional conflicts and hidden tensions within the Cleary family. Following his discharge from the Army after seeing combat overseas, Timmy returns to live with his parents. As the play unfolds, he realizes that his mother and father have drifted apart, and his efforts to bring them together are unsuccessful.

A New York Times review of the play’s 1964 Broadway premiere said, “Frank D. Gilroy has made good on the promise of ‘Who’ll Save the Plowboy?’ His new play, ‘The Subject Was Roses,’ which opened last night at the Royale Theater, is not only an impressive stride forward but also an honest and touching work in its own right.” 

The production’s scenic design is by Derek McLane, costumes by Laura Bauer, lighting by Cha See, sound design by Hidenori Nakajo, music by Marc Shaiman, and production stage management by Michelle Bosch.

“Roses” will run through June 16, daily except Mondays. Tickets range from $49.99 to $126.99; showtimes vary and can be found on the theater’s website. Conversations between the creative team and the audience will follow the performances of June 4 and June 11.

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