Monday, September 16, 2013


By Deanie Vallone

Playwright Keith Huff
If you hadn't heard of Keith Huff a few years ago, by now you certainly should have. The struggling playwright garnered wild success with his Chicago cop drama A STEADY RAIN, which premiered in 2007 at the Chicago Dramatists Playwrights' Theatre and went on to Broadway featuring Hollywood stars Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman. What followed for Huff included co-producing and writing gigs with award-winning shows “Mad Men” and “House of Cards,” multiple awards and fellowships, and a request to write a screen adaptation of A STEADY RAIN. Despite a leap in fame and paycheck, Huff continued writing for the theatre, including a second installment of an (un)official Chicago cop trilogy with the one-woman show THE DETECTIVE’S WIFE.
Daniel Craig & Hugh Jackman in Huff's A STEADY RAIN

THE DETECTIVE’S WIFE piqued the interest of MCT's Producing Artistic Director Michael Wright when he attended the play's world premiere at the Writers' Theatre in Chicago in 2011. He “was totally captivated by Keith Huff's gritty, naturalistic writing, his storytelling technique and the unique premise of the piece.”[1]

Certainly the same elements that made Hollywood mad about Huff made Wright
Huff is also a writer/producer
for "House of Cards"
attracted to the idea of including the play in an upcoming MCT season. But other details had to fall into place first. Around the same time, MCT was developing its Ruth Schudson Leading Lady Fund, hoping to use the fund to “underwrite one actress’s salary each season, thereby honoring other Milwaukee leading ladies.” Once Ruth Schudson recommended Mary MacDonald Kerr, a prolific Milwaukee actress and director, as a possible inaugural honoree, the idea really took off. THE DETECTIVE’S WIFE could not be a more apt piece for this endeavor. With a single-actress cast, all of the work falls on the shoulders of one talented artist. Wright considered Kerr “perfect” to play lead Alice Conroy.
Mary MacDonald Kerr
Capitalizing on MCT’s commitment to local theatre artists, Wright and director Jim Tasse drew from UW-Milwaukee's faculty members and students to work as designers and assistants for the show. This decision solidified “yet another phase in [MCT's] continuing partnerships with area universities.”

And so THE DETECTIVE’S WIFE came to Milwaukee. In an interview with RedEye Chicago Huff reported that he's shopping around to multiple networks a TV pilot based on the play.[2] While we wish Huff the best of luck in his further endeavors, we're excited to see a live production. The performance will take place in the intimate Studio Theatre in the Broadway Theatre Center, drawing audience members deeper into this subtitled “ghost story.” We've got chills already!

[1]    Michael Wright. “Interview,” 3 September 2013. All subsequent quotes from Wright come from this source.
[2]    Julia Borcherts. “Q&A: Keith Huff,” RedEye Chicago, 19 June 2013. Web. 7 September 2013.

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