|Children of a Lesser God|
|Written by||Mark Medoff|
|Date premiered||October 25, 1979|
|Place premiered||Mark Taper Forum|
Los Angeles, California
American Sign Language
Children of a Lesser God is a play by Mark Medoff, focusing on the conflicted professional and romantic relationship between Sarah Norman, a deaf student, and her former teacher, James Leeds. It premiered at the Mark Taper Forum in 1979, was produced on Broadway in 1980 and in the West End in 1981. It won the 1980 Tony Award for Best Play.
The play was specially written for the deaf actress Phyllis Frelich, based to some extent on her relationship with her husband Robert Steinberg. It was originally developed from workshops and showcased at New Mexico State University, with Frelich and Steinberg in the lead roles. It was seen by Gordon Davidson, Director of the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, who insisted that the male role needed to be played by a more experienced professional actor. The title comes from Alfred, Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King: "For why is all around us here / As if some lesser god had made the world".
|Character||1979 Los Angeles cast||1980 Broadway cast||1981 West End cast||1986 film cast||2018 Broadway revival cast|
|Sarah Norman||Phyllis Frelich||Elizabeth Quinn||Marlee Matlin||Lauren Ridloff|
|Mrs. Norman||Jo de Winter||Scotty Bloch||Irene Sutcliffe||Piper Laurie||Kecia Lewis-Evans|
|James Leeds||Robert Steinberg||John Rubinstein||Trevor Eve||William Hurt||Joshua Jackson|
Following a highly successful run at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, the Broadway production, directed by Gordon Davidson, opened on March 30, 1980, at the Longacre Theatre, where it ran for 887 performances. The cast included Phyllis Frelich as Sarah and John Rubinstein as James. David Ackroyd later replaced Rubinstein. Deaf actress Elizabeth Quinn later replaced Frelich, and Linda Bove, another deaf actress, known to television audiences for her more-than-30-year-long run on Sesame Street, had a successful turn in the role as well.
In 1981, the West End production ran originally at the Mermaid Theatre, then at the Albery Theatre, garnering three Olivier Awards. The production starred Trevor Eve and Elizabeth Quinn. Deaf actors from the UK were understudies including Jean St Clair, Sarah Scott and Terry Ruane.
A Broadway revival opened on April 11, 2018, at Studio 54, directed by Kenny Leon and starring Joshua Jackson, Lauren Ridloff, John McGinty and Anthony Edwards.
Main article: Children of a Lesser God (film)
In 1986, Medoff adapted the play for film directed by Randa Haines, starring Marlee Matlin and William Hurt.
|1980||Tony Award||Best Play||Won|
|Best Actor in a Play||John Rubinstein||Won|
|Best Actress in a Play||Phyllis Frelich||Won|
|Best Direction of a Play||Gordon Davison||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding New Play||Won|
|Outstanding Actor in a Play||John Rubinstein||Won|
|Outstanding Actress in a Play||Phyllis Frelich||Nominated|
|Outstanding Director of a Play||Gordon Davison||Nominated|
|Outstanding Lighting Design||Tharon Musser||Nominated|
|Outer Critics Circle Award||Outstanding New Broadway Play||Won|
|Outstanding Debut Performance||Phyllis Frelich||Won|
|1981||Laurence Olivier Award||Play of the Year||Won|
|Best Actor||Trevor Eve||Won|
|Best Actress||Elizabeth Quinn||Won|
|2018||Drama League Award||Outstanding Revival of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Play||Nominated|
|Distinguished Performance Award||Joshua Jackson||Nominated|
|Tony Award||Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Play||Lauren Ridloff||Nominated|
|Outer Critics Circle Award||Outstanding Actress in a Play||Lauren Ridloff||Nominated|