Bakersfield Mist, the new play by Fountain Theatre co-artistic director Stephen Sachs, has been optioned by multiple Tony award-winning producer Sonia Friedman for productions in London and New York. Sonia Friedman Productions has signed an option to produce the play on the West End in London with plans to bring it to New York for a subsequent Off Broadway or Broadway run. The cast and director have not yet been set.
“I’m thrilled beyond belief and couldn’t be happier,” says Sachs. “With the expert care and pedigree of Sonia Friedman Productions, the play is in very good hands.”
Inspired by a true story, Bakersfield Mist imagines a meeting between foul-mouthed, unemployed, trailer park-dwelling Maude Gutman, who believes the painting she bought in a thrift store for $3 is really an undiscovered masterpiece worth millions, and stuffy New York art expert Lionel Percy who arrives to evaluate the work. The comedy/drama is a fiery and often hilarious debate over class, truth, value, and the meaning of art.
The play had its world premiere at the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles in June, produced by Simon Levy and Deborah Lawlor, where it was supported in part by an award form the National New Play Network. Directed by Sachs and starring husband and wife actors Jenny O’Hara and Nick Ullett, the Fountain production received rave reviews and extended three times.
Subsequent productions in theaters around the country have received a similarly enthusiastic response from critics and audiences alike. Negotiations for the option between Sonia Friedman Productions and Sachs‘ agent, the Susan Gurman Agency, began last June, just after the opening at the Fountain.
Sonia Friedman is one of London’s most prolific and significant theater producers responsible for some of the most successful theater productions in London and on Broadway including, most recently The Book of Mormon, The Mountaintop (with Samuel Jackson and Angela Bassett), Jerusalem (with Mark Rylance), Legally Blonde: The Musical, Private Lives (with Kim Cattrall and Paul Gross), Master Class (with Tyne Daly), and Betrayal (with Kristin Scott Thomas). Friedman is the recipient of 20 Tony Awards as well as dozens of other awards including Olivier, Evening Standard and New York Drama Desk awards. Sonia Friedman Productions (SFP) was formed in 2002 and is a subsidiary of the Ambassador Theatre Group, the large and highly-regarded network of independent theatres in the UK.