International City Theatre Presents “Other Desert Cities”

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The manicured life of an actor-turned-politician and his impeccable wife is upset when relatives arrive at their Palm Springs home for the holidays — including daughter Brooke who’s about to publish a tell-all memoir. caryn desai [sic] directs Jon Robin Baitz’s Other Desert Cities, opening June 6 at International City Theatre in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. Two low-priced previews take place on June 4 and June 5.

Brooke Wyeth (Ann Noble), a once promising novelist, returns home after a six-year absence to celebrate Christmas with parents Lyman and Polly (Nicholas Hormann and Suzanne Ford), brother Trip (Blake Anthony Edwards) and Aunt Silda (Eileeen T’Kaye). Lyman and Polly are the seemingly-perfect upper middle class couple, replete with wealth, political influence and A-list connections, “living the dream” in Palm Springs. But when Brooke announces that she is about to publish a memoir focusing on an explosive chapter in the family’s history, the holiday reunion is thrown into turmoil.

As in all desert lands, mirage can transfix and trick the inhabitants. As the heat gives way, reality comes into sharp and unrelenting focus. Perception and reality grapple with love and mercy as old family wounds are opened, childhood memories are tested and the Wyeth clan learns that some secrets cannot stay buried forever.

“I wondered about the hubris in the act of writing about people who are actually living, and I thought so many people do this and so few people get to respond to it really,” explained Baitz in an interview. “There are so many great memoirs and they’re also absolutely unreliable in the fundamental sense. It came from my sense of trying to either expiate or make sense of my life as a writer up until now and the potential damage that I’ve been party to or done.”

Other Desert Cities premiered at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center Theater before transferring to Broadway in 2011, and has since been performed at regional theaters around the country. It was the winner of the Drama League Award for Distinguished Play, was named Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play by the Outer Critics Circle, received five Tony nominations including Best Play and was a 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist.

The play’s title refers to a roadside sign on the eastbound I-10 that directs drivers to exit at Palm Springs, Calif., or head on to “other desert cities.”

International City Theatre is Long Beach’s Resident Professional Theater at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center and the recipient of the Margaret Harford Award from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle for “Sustained Excellence in Theater.”

Other Desert Cities runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., June 6 through June 29. Two preview performances take place on Wednesday, June 4 and Thursday, June 5 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $42 on Thursdays and $47 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, except opening night (June 6) for which tickets are $52 and include a post-performance reception with the actors. International City Theatre is located in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center at 300 E. Ocean Blvd. in Long Beach, CA 90802. For reservations and information, call the ICT Box Office at 562-436-4610 or

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