EXCLUSIVE: Sean Young will make her New York stage debut as slain B-movie star Susan Cabot in an Off Broadway production of Rider McDowell’s play Ode To The Wasp Woman.
The play, which begins previews Oct. 30 at The Actors Temple Theatre, chronicles the last 48 hours in the lives of four 1950s B-movie actors: Cabot, the leading lady of the Roger Corman’s 1959 cult classic The Wasp Woman; George Reeves, star of TV’s Superman; Carl ‘Alfalfa’ Switzer of the “Our Gang” comedies; and B-movie queen and Bride of the Gorilla star Barbara Payton.
Opening night for the 13-week engagement is Thursday, November 9. Casting for the other three featured roles will be announced at a later date. Forwood C. Wiser produces.
In a statement, Young called the play “a sly cautionary tale about ambitious people who work in Hollywood, become desperate, and how show business chews them up. I’m looking forward to purging my own personal experience of being eaten alive in Hollywood.”
Young’s movie credits include Blade Runner, No Way Out, Wall Street, Ace Ventura Pet Detective and A Kiss Before Dying, among others.
The synopsis: “The desperate and sensational events that lead to the demise of these four fallen stars are told in four one acts with music, a veritable homage to film noir and true crime.”
Playwright McDowell, who will also direct, said, “I wrote Ode To The Wasp Woman as a paen to my boyhood TV heroes of the the 1960s and 70s. When I learned on the same rainy day in 1970 that Superman and Alfalfa were both dead, it shocked me. Fold in the deaths of ‘Wasp Woman’ Susan Cabot and Barbara ‘I am not ashamed’ Payton, actresses I admired, and the grim picture was complete. Ode To The Wasp Woman reveals the who, what, where, if not the ‘why,’ of the deaths of these fallen stars.”
In addition to her film career, Payton wrote a 1963 autobiography titled I Am Not Ashamed.
“People have asked me why this play to make my Off Broadway debut, and it’s simple: I liked the story and I liked the writing,” Young’s statement continued. “It’s a mix between Sherwood Anderson and David Mamet, extremely earthy and funny. Plus I love New York and I miss it. People will come out to see this play because the subject matter is so unusual. It’s a true crime and B Hollywood fan’s dream come true. And my role, playing doomed actress Susan Cabot, is unlike anything I’ve ever played. Plus I get to sing a song.”
In addition to The Wasp Woman, Cabot appeared in such ’50s films as Machine-Gun Kelly, Tomahawk and Sorority Girl. She was bludgeoned to death in 1986 by her 22-year-old son, who claimed self-defense and was sentenced to three years probation.
The play was originally developed in a 2017 workshop staging titled Fringe Deaths.
Ode To The Wasp Woman features a scenic design by Josh Iacovelli, lighting design by Maarten Cornelis, and sound design by Bob’ The Hammer’ Franco. Young’s costumes are designed by Montgomery Frazier. Adam Smith Jr. is Co-Producer.
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