Austin Pendleton to Revive Rare William Inge Play

The original version of William Inge’s A Loss of Roses will open on June 15 at Arkansas Rep. The revival will be directed by New York City director, playwright and noted film and stage actor Austin Pendleton.

“I discovered A Loss of Roses a few years ago. I thought: this is a forgotten beautiful American play, full of colorful people and rich, juicy humor, and full of tragedy,” says Pendleton. “Since I read it, I’ve wanted to do it. I’m thrilled a theatre as good as Arkansas Rep is letting me do it.”

Pendleton directed a staged reading of A Loss of Roses featured in TONGUES at New York’s Cherry Lane Theatre in 2010. Pendleton has served as artistic director of the Circle Repertory Theatre Company in New York and is an ensemble member of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

Pendleton says several of Inge’s plays have been revived by theatre artists wanting to tackle the playwright’s well-made plays. However, A Loss of Roses has remained mostly on the shelf since it closed on Broadway in 1959. Arkansas Rep’s production will feature Jean Lichty as Lila Green, Jane Summerhays as Helen Baird and Bret Lada as Kenny.


In A Loss of Roses, Helen is a devout widow who cherishes the memory of her heroic husband above all else, even as her grown son, Kenny, struggles to fill his shoes and win his mother’s love. Lila is a beautiful but emotionally insecure actress who arrives on their doorstep without a job or direction, but with a lifetime of baggage. When Lila moves in, a love triangle is created that can only end in heartbreak when someone must break free – for love, from love or both.

Penned in the intimate style of Tennessee Williams, but with William Inge’s graceful insight into the lives of broken families, A Loss of Roses is a bittersweet romance about the loss of innocence which garnered a young Warren Beatty a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in the 1959 Broadway production.


“Bringing a rarely-produced work by William Inge to the stage is cause for celebration; doubly so when the creative team is led by Austin Pendleton,” says Rep Producing Artistic Director Robert Hupp. “He’s assembled a dynamic cast for this fascinating play. I am honored to introduce A Loss of Roses to a new generation of theatregoers and to re-examine Inge in the context of what he spoke of as his favorite among his many works.”

A Loss of Roses was William Inge’s first big setback after a string of critical and commercial successes with Bus Stop and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Picnic. The production was plagued by cast and script changes, earned poor reviews and closed after only three weeks on stage. Inge felt the play was one of his best, and was said to be stung by the criticisms. Arkansas Rep’s production will revive Inge’s original script, including the ending as Inge intended.