The Heidi Chronicles

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For the film, see The Heidi Chronicles (film).
The Heidi Chronicles
Written by Wendy Wasserstein
Characters Heidi Holland
Peter Patrone
Scoop Rosenbaum
Susan Johnston
Date premiered November 18, 1988
Place premiered Playwrights Horizons
New York City, New York
Original language English
Genre Drama
Setting New York, Chicago, Manchester, New Hampshire, Ann Arbor, 1965-1989

The Heidi Chronicles is a 1988 play by Wendy Wasserstein. The play won the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Production history[edit]

A workshop production at Seattle Repertory Theatre was held in April 1988, directed by Daniel J. Sullivan.

The play premiered off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons on November 18, 1988 and closed on February 19, 1989 after 99 performances. It then transferred to Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre, opening on March 9, 1989 and closing on September 1, 1990, after 622 performances. Both productions were directed by Sullivan. The set design was by Thomas Lynch, costume design by Jennifer von Mayrhauser and lighting design by Pat Collins. The cast starred Joan Allen as Heidi, Boyd Gaines as Peter, and Peter Friedman as Scoop. Sarah Jessica Parker was featured in three small roles off-Broadway; those roles were played by Cynthia Nixon for the Broadway run.

Replacement actors on Broadway included Christine Lahti, Brooke Adams, and Mary McDonnell as Heidi, David Hyde Pierce as Peter, and Tony Shalhoub as Scoop.

Two Broadway Heidis married the actor who played opposite them as Scoop: Joan Allen and Peter Friedman (now divorced) and Brooke Adams and Tony Shalhoub.

The first major production mounted after Wasserstein's death in January 2006 was at the Berkshire Theatre Festival during the summer of 2006.

On September 30, 2011, produced by The English Theatre of Rome and directed by Gaby Ford, the play premiered in Italy, at Rome's Teatro dell'Arciliuto near Piazza Navona, to wide acclaim.

It is suggested that a revival - the first Broadway revival of any of Wasserstein's plays[1] - may be produced on Broadway in 2014/2015, possibly with Elisabeth Moss in the title role, and possibly with Pam MacKinnon directing.[2]


The plot follows Heidi Holland from high school in the 1960s to her career as a successful art historian more than twenty years later. The play's main themes deal with the changing role of women during this time period, describing both Heidi's ardent feminism during the 1970s and her eventual sense of betrayal during the 1980s. Though most of the characters are women, there are two important male characters; Peter Patrone, a gay pediatrician who is arguably Heidi's best friend, and Scoop Rosenbaum, a magazine editor who marries and has many affairs, and with whom Heidi has a tense friendship. Heidi meets Scoop at a Eugene McCarthy rally where he tries to woo her with knowledge and wit. She seems unenthused and lies about her name to Scoop but is soon convinced as she realizes Scoop is a very intelligent, attractive man despite his egotistical ways. The scene in which they first meet ends with a passionate kiss and night together. It is ambiguously implied that Heidi may have been a virgin at the time. Although they don't work out romantically, the chemistry between Scoop and Heidi is insatiable and they go on to be lifelong friends. Heidi realizes that not marrying does not mean she can not be a mother and takes matters into her own hands. She chooses to have a child on her own through artificial insemination with the help of her friend Peter Patrone.

Critical responses & cultural impact[edit]

The New York Times critic Mel Gussow wrote of the Playwrights Horizon production: "Ms. Wasserstein has always been a clever writer of comedy. This time she has been exceedingly watchful about not settling for easy laughter, and the result is a more penetrating play. This is not to suggest, however, that The Heidi Chronicles is ever lacking in humor."[3]

The new Jerry Seinfeld sitcom pilot that premiered on NBC in July 1989 was entitled The Seinfeld Chronicles as an homage to (or spoof of) Wasserstein's zeitgeist-dominating play. The show's title was quickly shortened to Seinfeld.

Film adaptation[edit]

In 1995, the play was adapted as a television film. It was directed by Paul Bogart and starred Jamie Lee Curtis and Tom Hulce in the leading roles.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Tony Award
  • Best Play (winner)
  • Best Actress in a Play (Allen) (nominee)
  • Best Featured Actor in a Play (Gaines) (winner)
  • Best Featured Actress in a Play (Joanne Camp)(nominee)
  • Best Scenic Design (Thomas Lynch)(nominee)
  • Best Direction of a Play (nominee)
Drama Desk Award
  • Best New Play (winner)
  • Outstanding Actor in a Play (Friedman)
  • Outstanding Actress in a Play (Allen) (nominee)
  • Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play (Joanne Camp)(nominee)
  • Outstanding Director of a Play (nominee)
  • Outstanding Set Design (nominee)
New York Drama Critics Circle
  • Best Play (winner)


External links[edit]