Howard’s only full-length non-musical play, The Confirmation, was first produced in 1976. It was the closest Howard came to writing autobiographically. Besides its moving plotline and quintessentially witty dialog, The Confirmation is a fascinating first glimpse into Howard’s affection for characters who lead simple lives with simple and heartfelt aspirations. As a sort of precursor to the themes of Little Shop of Horrors, the characters in The Confirmation have managed to find, in Audrey’s words, “somewhere that’s green” but they have found it as wanting, in its own way, as skid row.
The play takes place in Baltimore circa 1964. Over the course of one weekend, the Poland family celebrates the confirmation (a Reform Jewish ceremony for teens) of fifteen-year-old Rachel. Smart, angry and unpopular, Rachel considers herself a failure. Rachel’s father, Arnold, faces his own failures and becomes nostalgic for his childhood, when he lived with his family above his father’s small corner grocery store. He determines that he will move his family back downtown and reopen the store. But truths are revealed as the play progresses and Albert and his family are left to face their uncertain future with a clearer but sadder understanding of the past. As became his signature throughout his writing career, Howard focused on the quotidian - but entirely real - dreams of people the audience recognizes as their own.
Productions & CREDITS
Circle Repertory Company — Projects-in-Progress (1976)
Directed by R. Stuart White
McCarter Theater: Princeton, NJ, 1977 (Directed by Kenneth Frankel)
Annenberg Center, Philadelphia, 1977 (Directed by Kenneth Frankel)