Adapted from the novel by Wilkie Collins. It's the late 1800s and young Walter Hartright, on his way to a new teaching position, meets a mysterious woman dressed in white. Terrified, she asks him the way to London and mentions that she once was very happy at the very house Walter is going to. Later, Walter meets his pupils: Marian Halcombe and her half-sister Laura Fairlie, the latter who strongly resembles the woman in white. Walter soon falls in love with Laura, but his happiness is dashed when he finds out her engagement to Sir Percival Glyde has been arranged. When Glyde arrives to set the wedding date, Marian sends Walter away, but not before telling him about a young girl named Anne Catherick who had once lived there but apparently disappeared after Marian and Laura's mother died. In the intricate plot that follows, a mysterious letter, love, deceit, tense adventures, escape from an institution and various unmaskings play out until a final dramatic confrontation.
PLAYWRIGHT CRAIG SODARO
TALKS ABOUT "THE WOMAN IN WHITE"
Q: WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS PLAY?
A: I was in a bookstore looking for a good mystery to read when I came across the novel by Wilkie Collins. The title intrigued me as I'd heard something about its being adapted for the Broadway stage. I read the book and found the story to be a terrific mystery full of enjoyable and despicable characters, plot twists and turns, and a highly satisfying end. I knew at once I wanted to adapt it in a very fluid style for the stage.
Q: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART IN THE PLAY?
A: My favorite part is the end of Act One. I think it really packs a punch--I know it did when I first read the book. But I wouldn't want to give anything away by telling more than that.
Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE CHARACTERS?
A: Collins was a very good friend of Charles Dickens. They even wrote and produced plays together, so Collins' style is influenced by that of Dickens, and perhaps vice-versa. The central character, who must struggle against terribly adverse conditions in order to survive, provides the theme for many of their works. And both of them have wonderful villains, nasty characters who will do anything to achieve their wretched goals. Of course of the best part of their stories is the villains' downfall.
Q: WHAT DID YOU TRY TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS PLAY?
A. The first thing I tried to achieve was to distill the story into a two-hour format without sacrificing any of the major plot elements. Secondly, I wanted to preserve the characters and keep them faithful to the original while still making them accessible to contemporary audiences. In the novel, various characters narrate the story, so I have kept that technique as much as possible, and I think it provides a fine dramatic tension throughout since the characters are aware of the audience. Third, I wanted to create a story that moves fluidly, effortlessly across the stage, as if it's choreographed. That's the only way, I believe, one can stage a tale that takes place in so many locales. Finally, I wanted to create a wide range of roles for the actors. Each of the characters, I hope, provides a challenge and room for an actor's growth.
Q: DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO ADD?
A: Enjoy the suspense, the mystery, and the cleverness of the tale!