Eugene O’Neill described Long Day’s Journey Into Night as a “play of old sorrow written with blood and tears.” The piece was so personal – a thinly disguised exploration of his damaged, wounded family – that he never wanted it to be produced. But it was, just a few years after his death, and it not only resuscitated his diminished reputation, but established him in the eyes of many as America’s greatest playwright. This monumental, searing masterwork, which earned O’Neill his fourth Pulitzer Prize for Drama, opens at Palm Beach Dramaworks on January 29 and continues through February 28, with specially priced previews on January 27 and 28. Please note that all evening performances are at 7:30pm, and all matinees are at 1:00pm.
Long Day’s Journey Into Night takes place over one August day in 1912 at the Tyrones’ summer home in Connecticut, which is inspired by the O’Neill family’s Monte Cristo Cottage. James Tyrone, the miserly patriarch, squandered his gifts as an actor by touring the country in one role for years, a choice that brought him fame and fortune but robbed him of his artistic soul. His wife, Mary, has battled morphine addiction ever since the birth of their younger son, Edmund. The older son, James Jr., is an alcoholic, and Edmund – based on Eugene – is tubercular. Over the course of the play these defeated souls accuse and confess, reveal their regrets and their pain and their unfulfilled dreams, and face the consequences of their lamentable choices.

PBD’s production is directed by William Hayes and features Dennis Creaghan as James; Joy Franz as Mary; John Leonard Thompson as James Jr.; Michael Stewart Allen, in his company debut, as Edmund; and Carey Urban, also making her debut, as Cathleen, a household servant. Scenic design is by
K. April Soroko, costume design is by Brian O’Keefe, lighting design is by Donald Edmund Thomas, and sound design is by Matt Corey. The assistant director is Paul Stancato.

It took O’Neill two years to write Long Day’s Journey Into Night, and when he completed it in 1941 he sealed it and placed it in a vault at Random House, his publisher. He knew he’d written a great play, but due to the nature of the piece he left instructions that it not be published until 25 years after his death, and that it never be performed. But his third wife, Carlotta Monterey, had other ideas, and in February, 1956 – just 26 months after O’Neill died – the play received its world premiere in Stockholm. It was published that same year, and on November 7 the first Broadway production opened, with real-life couple Fredric March and Florence Eldridge as the parents, Jason Robards Jr. as James Jr., and Bradford Dillman as Edmund. The play was directed by José Quintero, and went on to win the 1957 Tony Award.

Eugene Gladstone O’Neill (1888 – 1953) was the first great American playwright. He rejected the silly melodramas that populated Broadway in the early part of the twentieth century, creating a new kind of naturalistic American play that had never before been seen. In so doing, he paved the way for serious drama in this country. His first full-length play to reach Broadway was Beyond the Horizon (1920), which earned him the first of four Pulitzer Prizes. His major works include The Emperor Jones (1920); Anna Christie (1921), for which he received a Pulitzer Prize in 1922; The Hairy Ape (1922); Desire Under the Elms (1924); The Great God Brown (1926); Strange Interlude (1928), his third play to win a Pulitzer Prize; Mourning Becomes Electra (1931); Ah, Wilderness! (1933); The Iceman Cometh (1939); and A Moon for the Misbegotten (1957). In 1936, O’Neill became the first playwright to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, awarded “for the power, honesty and deep-felt emotions of his dramatic works, which embody an original concept of tragedy.”
Palm Beach Dramaworks is a non-profit, professional theatre and is a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the South Florida Theatre League, Florida Professional Theatres Association, and the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County.

The performance schedule for Long Day’s Journey Into Night is as follows: Evening performances are Wednesday through Sunday at 7:30PM; matinee performances are on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 1PM. Wednesday matinees and Sunday evenings include a post-performance discussion. Individual tickets are $64, with specially priced preview tickets at $44 and Opening Night tickets at $79. Student tickets are available for $10; tickets for educators are half price with proper ID (other restrictions apply). Group rates for 20 or more and discounted season subscriptions are also available.

The Don & Ann Brown Theatre is located in the heart of downtown West Palm Beach, at 201 Clematis Street. For ticket information contact the box office at (561) 514-4042, or visit

Comments are closed.