“Clever Little Lies,” a comedy by the Tony Award-winning playwright Joe DiPietro that premiered last fall at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, N.J., will open at Guild Hall on Wednesday and run through Aug. 3. The original cast—Marlo Thomas, Greg Mullavey, Jim Stanek, and Kate Wetherhead—will star in the production, which will be directed by David Saint, artistic director of George Street Playhouse.
The play opens in a tennis club locker room where Bill Jr. (Mr. Stanek) confides to Bill Sr. (Mr. Mullavey) that he has fallen in love with his young mistress. Despite his assurances to the contrary, Bill Sr. spills the beans to his wife, Alice (Ms. Thomas), who in turn creates a ruse to bring her son and daughter-in-law to her home for an evening of reckoning. The gathering quickly degenerates into misunderstandings and contentiousness, and family secrets are gradually unearthed.
“What I love about it is that it has a lot of twists and turns, it’s completely unpredictable,” said Ms. Thomas during a telephone conversation last week. “It gives each of the characters an arc that is surprising. And by the end of the play, you’ve had a full meal—as an actor, and as an audience. You don’t usually get that in a comedy.”
Ken Jaworowski, reviewing the New Brunswick production for The New York Times, wrote, “Joe DiPietro’s script is exceptionally actor-friendly, featuring lots of lively give-and-take among the characters, whose personalities are relatable and whose intentions are usually honest. . . . Mr. DiPietro is exceedingly well served by his cast.”
The playwright won the 2012 Drama Desk Award and was nominated for a Tony Award for best book for the recent Broadway hit “Nice Work if You Can Get It,” and he garnered a shelf full of honors for “Memphis,” including Tony Awards for best book and best score.
Ms. Thomas’s career spans 50 years and countless stage and television roles, perhaps the most famous of which was Anne Marie in “That Girl,” the medium’s first comedy series about a single, independent woman, which Ms. Thomas also produced. She has appeared in three plays at the George Street Playhouse—Elaine May’s one-act “George is Dead,” Arthur Laurents’s “New Year’s Eve,” and “Clever Little Lies.”
“When you work in regional theater, often what you’re doing is revivals,” she said. “So it’s exciting to have done three originals at the George Street, and that’s what I really love about that theater. David Saint is a really good artistic director and is always looking for new plays.”
Mr. Mullavey has logged five decades of steady acting work, including the film “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice,” and such notable television shows as “M*A*S*H,” “Mary Hartmann, Mary Hartmann,” “All in the Family,” and “L.A. Law.”
Mr. Stanek has appeared in films and on television, but his career thus far is heavily weighted toward theater, with roles in six Broadway productions and more than a dozen off Broadway.
Ms. Wetherhead, too, has focused on the stage, with Broadway appearances in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and “Legally Blonde,” and numerous Off-Broadway and regional roles.
“Greg Mullavey is really great,” said Ms. Thomas, “and Jim Stanek and Kate Wetherhead are extremely good actors. I know actors always say this about people in their cast, but I’m telling you the truth. They really are wonderful. There’s a lot going on with these characters, and I think that’s why everybody jumped at the chance to do this. These are all very accomplished people.”
While this is Ms. Thomas’s first stage appearance on the East End, she and her husband, Phil Donahue, visit often and have many friends with houses here. For the run at Guild Hall, “Phil is bringing out a small boat that he’ll dock in Sag Harbor. We often come here on our boat, and we stay on it, or with friends.”
Prime orchestra tickets are $75, $70 for members; orchestra seats are priced at $55, $53 for members, and the balcony costs $40, $38 for members. Tickets are available at guildhall.org or at the box office.