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The Hot l Baltimore is a play by Lanford Wilson set in the lobby of the Hotel Baltimore. The plot 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 "e" that was never replaced.

The Hot l Baltimore
The Hot l Baltimore.jpg
Window card for the Gastown Actor's Studio 2001 production
Written byLanford Wilson
Date premiered22 March 1973
Place premieredCircle in the Square Downtown
New York City
Original languageEnglish
Subjecta manager's struggle to maintain order despite the hotel's destruction
SettingThe lobby of a seedy run-down hotel in Baltimore

Production historyEdit

The Hot l Baltimore was produced by the Circle Repertory Company on February 4, 1973. It then transferred to the off-Broadway Circle in the Square Downtown on March 22, 1973.[1][2] The production 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.[3]

The play won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best American Play of 1972–73, multiple Obie Awards (Best American Play, Lanford Wilson; Distinguished Performance, Mari Goldman; Distinguished Direction, Marshall W. Mason)[3][4], the John Gassner Playwriting Award, and an Outer Critics Circle Award.[1]

It was produced at the Williamstown Theater Festival in Williamstown, Massachusetts, in July 2000, directed by Joe Mantello, with the cast featuring Sam Rockwell, Mandy Siegfried, Lois Smith, Helen Hanft, and Becky Ann Baker.[5] It was then produced by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago from March through May 2011, directed by Tina Landau.[6]


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 sitcom had several controversial elements, including two main characters who worked as 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 the series failed to win an audience and was canceled after 13 episodes.

In 1976, a version of the series with the title Hôtel Baltimore was produced for French television. The series, which featured Dora Doll, lasted for a single season.

Critical receptionEdit

Mel Gussow, in his review of the 1973 production for The New York Times, 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."[7]



  1. ^ a b Dean, Anne. "From Missouri to Manhattan" in Discovery and Invention: The Urban Plays of Lanford Wilson, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1994. ISBN 0838635482, p. 27.
  2. ^ Wilson, Lanford. The Hot L Baltimore: A Play. Dramatists Play Service Inc., 1973. ISBN 0822205335, p. 4.
  3. ^ a b "'The Hot I Baltimore' Listing" Lortel Archives. Accessed September 2, 2015.
  4. ^ "Obie Awards, 1970s" Obie Awards. Accessed September 2, 2015.
  5. ^ Brantley, Ben. "Theater Review. 'Hot L Baltimore'; Life Force In a Hotel Of Broken Dreams" The New York Times, July 10, 2000.
  6. ^ The Hot L Baltimore Archived 2015-09-11 at the Wayback Machine Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Accessed September 2, 2015.
  7. ^ Gussow, Mel. "Stage: The Unwanted People of 'Hot L Baltimore'" The New York Times, February 8, 1973, p. 37.

External linksEdit