By Matthew Barber
From the novel by Elizabeth von Arnim
2003 TONY AWARD NOMINEE — Best Play
2003 DRAMA LEAGUE NOMINEE — Best Play
2003 JOHN GASSNER AWARD WINNER — Outstanding New American Play
Feeling lost in their marriages and in the rapidly shifting social currents of post-WWI London, two middle-class housewives rent a villa in Italy for an impulsive holiday away from their lives, reluctantly recruiting a pair of independent upper-class women to share the cost and experience. There, among the wisteria blossoms and Mediterranean sunshine, all four clash—and then begin to bloom—rediscovering themselves in ways that they never could have imagined.
Romantic Comedy in two acts
5 women, 3 men
Matthew Barber’s stage play ENCHANTED APRIL was created in association with the Elizabeth von Arnim estate and premiered at Hartford Stage Company under the direction of Michael Wilson, with set design by Tony Straiges, costume design by Jess Goldstein, lighting design by Rui Rita, and sound design by John Gromada. The production opened at the Belasco Theatre on Broadway in 2003, produced by Jeffrey Richards, Richard Gross, Ellen Berman, Raymond J. and Pearl Berman Greenwald, Irving Welzer, Libby Adler Mages, Mari Glick, Howard R. Berlin, Terry E. Schnuck, and Frederick B. Vogel.
Original casts were as follows:
Lotty Wilton: Isabel Keating
Mellersh Wilton: John Hines
Rose Arnott: Enid Graham
Frederick Arnott: Christopher Donahue
Caroline Bramble: Stephanie March
Antony Wilding: Christopher Duva
Mrs. Graves: Jill Tanner
Costanza: Irma St. Paule
Lotty Wilton: Jayne Atkinson
Mellersh Wilton: Michael Cumpsty
Rose Arnott: Molly Ringwald
Frederick Arnott: Daniel Gerroll
Caroline Bramble: Dagmara Dominczyk
Antony Wilding: Michael Hayden
Mrs. Graves: Elizabeth Ashley
Costanza: Patricia Conolly
AUTHOR PRODUCTION NOTES
The two acts of Enchanted April are intentionally different from each other in form, crafted to lead the audience on the same sensory journey as the play’s characters. Act One should project the heavy, haunted atmosphere of mourning, with each scene blending into the next, the Act gradually building in momentum like a train gaining speed. (The humor will show itself. In fact, the more heavyhearted the overall tone of Act One, the stronger and more bittersweet the humor, and the brighter and more celebratory the rewards of Act Two.)
Scene “changes” in Act One should occur without breaking the Act’s flow, consisting of nothing more than swift rearrangements of the four chairs, the taking off and putting on of coats and hats, small lighting changes, and the designated sound cues. Props in each scene should be brought on and off by the actors involved, or by a stagehand costumed as a servant.
Act Two is best played “out,” with the “sea and gardens” imagined somewhere beyond the audience.