|The Hot l Baltimore|
Window card for the Gastown Actor's Studio 2001 production
|Written by||Lanford Wilson|
|Date premiered||22 March 1973|
Circle in the Square Downtown|
New York City
|Subject||a manager's struggle to maintain order despite the hotel's destruction|
|Setting||The lobby of a seedy run-down hotel in Baltimore|
The Hot l Baltimore is a play by Lanford Wilson set in the lobby of the Hotel Baltimore. It focuses on the residents of the decaying property who are faced with eviction when the structure is condemned. The play draws its title from the hotel's neon marquee with a burned-out letter "e" that was never replaced.
The Hot l Baltimore was produced by the Circle Repertory Company on February 4, 1973, and then transferred to the off-Broadway Circle in the Square Downtown on March 22, 1973. It closed on January 4, 1976 after 1,166 performances. It was directed by Marshall W. Mason, and the cast included Trish Hawkins, Conchata Ferrell, Judd Hirsch, Jonathan Hogan, and Mari Gorman.
The play won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best American Play of 1972-73, the Obie Award (Best American Play, Lanford Wilson; Distinguished Performance, Mari Goldman; Distinguished Direction, Marshall W. Mason), the John Gassner Playwriting Award, and an Outer Critics Circle Award. It was produced at the Williamstown Theater Festival (Massachusetts) in July 2000, directed by Joe Mantello, with the cast that featured Sam Rockwell, Mandy Siegfried, Lois Smith, Helen Hanft, and Becky Ann Baker. It was produced by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company from March to May 2011, directed by Tina Landau.
In 1975, producer Norman Lear adapted the play for a half-hour ABC sitcom. The cast included Conchata Ferrell, James Cromwell, Richard Masur, Al Freeman, Jr., Gloria LeRoy, Jeannie Linero, and Charlotte Rae. The series had several controversial elements, including two primary characters who were prostitutes, one of whom was an illegal immigrant and one of the first gay couples to be depicted on an American television series. The network supported the show and gave it a full publicity campaign, but it failed to win an audience and was canceled after thirteen episodes.
In 1976, a version with the title Hôtel Baltimore was produced for television in France. The series, which featured Dora Doll, lasted for only a single season.
Mel Gussow, in his review for The New York Times (presented at the Circle Repertory Company) wrote that Wilson "writes with understanding and sensitivity about unwanted people... There are moments in this play... when Wilson - with his passion for idiosyncratic characters, atmospheric details and invented homilies - reminds me of William Saroyan and Thornton Wilder... The play seems to meander... there is little plot or action but there is emotion."