Lemon Sky was first developed at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Playwrights Conference in 1968, with Michael Douglas in the cast. It was later produced Off-Off-Broadway at Cafe La MaMa in 1970. It was then produced at the Studio Arena Theater, Buffalo, New York and next Off-Broadwy at the Playhouse Theatre, running from May 17, 1970 to May 31, 1970. Directed by Warren Enters, the cast featured Charles Durning (Douglas), Christopher Walken (Alan) and Bonnie Bartlett (Ronnie). Christopher Walken won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Performance. The play was presented Off-Broadway at Second Stage Theatre in December 1985, starring Jeff Daniels as Alan, Wayne Tippet as the father and Cynthia Nixon as Carol and Jill Eikenberry, directed by Mary B. Robinson. Jill Eikenberry won the 1986 Obie Award, Performance.
Clive Barnes, in his review for The New York Times of the 1970 production, wrote: "On many levels Lemon Sky is a play very well worth seeing. It has the immediacy of the way we live, and something of the smooth-spoken hysteria."
The story is about a fresh out of high school teen from the midwest moving to San Diego, California in the 1950s to live with his estranged father and new family. Attempting to overcome the past, Alan is confronted with problems within his new family.
Wilson adapted the play for a television drama of the same name. The telefim was broadcast in February 1988 as part of American Playhouse. Directed by Jan Egleson, the film starred Kevin Bacon as Alan, with Tom Atkins as the father Doug and Lindsay Crouse as Doug's second wife. Kyra Sedgwick, who met future husband Bacon during rehearsals, played Carol, a teenage boarder--"pill-popping, promiscuous... who seems to spend most of her time with the U.S. Navy." John J. O'Connor, in his review for The New York Times wrote that the film version is "terrific" and praised the "uncommonly fine performances". Casey Affleck made his screen debut as Alan's stepbrother Jerry.
- Kuchwara, Michael. "'Lemon Sky' Revival Opens Off-Broadway", The Day (google news archive), December 16, 1985, p. 13
- "Lemon Sky Listing 1970" lortel.org, accessed September 3, 2015
- "Lemon Sky Listing 1985" lortel.org, accessed September 3, 2015
- Barnes, Clive. "Stage: Immediacy Illuminates Wilson's 'LemonSky'", The New York Times, May 18, 1970, p. 40
- Clifford Terry. "'Lemon Sky' Peels A Sour Relationship" Chicago Tribune, February 10, 1988
- O'Connor, John. J. "TV Reviews; Lanford Wilson's 'Lemon Sky,' on Channel 13" The New York Times, February 10, 1988