Hartford Stage, under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Wilson and Managing Director Michael Stotts, announced today that acclaimed actress Lois Smith will return to Hartford Stage in the role of matriarch Stella Gordon as she joins the Broadway cast of Horton Foote's hit comedy Dividing The Estate for the production's run at Hartford Stage May 28 - July 5. Hartford Stage Artistic Director Michael Wilson will once again direct the production, which was produced this season on Broadway by Lincoln Center Theater by arrangement with Primary Stages.
Lois Smith's career in theatre, film, and television has spanned five decades. She made her film debut in East of Eden opposite James Dean in 1955. Additional film credits include Five Easy Pieces, Up the Sandbox, Four Friends, Fatal Attraction, Fried Green Tomatoes, How to Make an American Quilt, Dead Man Walking, Twister, and Minority Report. Much of Smith's career has been spent in television, appearing in early anthology series (Studio One, Robert Montgomery Presents), soap operas (Another World, Somerset, The Edge of Night, All My Children, One Life to Live), and numerous primetime dramas, including The Defenders, Dr. Kildare, Route 66, thirtysomething, The Practice, Law & Order, Grey's Anatomy and most recently, HBO's True Blood.
Smith made her Broadway debut in the 1952 comedy Time Out for Ginger. A member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble, she appeared as Ma Joad in their production of The Grapes of Wrath in Chicago, San Diego, and London before bringing it to New York City, where her performance earned her first of two Tony Award nominations (her second was in 1996 for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play, Buried Child). She has previously appeared in The Stick Wife at Hartford Stage.
Lois Smith first collaborated with Horton Foote in his play The Man Who Climbed the Pecan Trees in 1988 at Off-Broadway's Ensemble Studio Theatre, and later appeared in his play Land of the Astronauts. She won the 2006 Drama Desk Award and the 2008 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Actress for her critically acclaimed performance as Carrie Watts in Foote's The Trip to Bountiful, first at Off-Broadway's Signature Theatre Company and later at Chicago's Goodman Theatre as part of their celebrated Horton Foote Festival.
Her collaboration with director Michael Wilson dates back to the New York premiere of Jane Anderson's Defying Gravity in 1997. Wilson said, "I am so thrilled to be working with Lois again. She is one of America's greatest actors on stage and screen, and I with her, I have enjoyed one of the most satisfying collaborations of my career. Also, Horton Foote loved and admired her work greatly. It is a dream to have her join our distinguished company for Horton's last Broadway play."
Dividing The Estate, a human comedy about a family that must confront its past as it prepares for its future, opened to critical acclaim Off-Broadway in the fall of 2007 at Primary Stages. It began its limited engagement Broadway run in October 2008 at the Booth Theatre, under the auspices of Lincoln Center Theater. Joining Ms. Smith for the Hartford Stage engagement is the rest of the Broadway company, including Drama Desk winner Hallie Foote, Obie Award winner Arthur French, Tony Award nominee Penny Fuller, and Gerald McRaney (HBO's Deadwood). Other returning cast members include Devon Abner, Pat Bowie, James DeMarse, Virginia Kull, Maggie Lacey, Nicole Lowrance, Jenny Dare Paulin, and Keiana Richard.