''Ten minutes into the play, the audience leans forward and they never lean back. In 30 years of doing theater, I've never seen a play that so engages an audience,'' says Cherry Jones, star of John Patrick Shanley's Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning drama, Doubt. As Jones explains, Doubt ''takes place in a Catholic grade school in the Bronx in 1964. Sister Aloysius, whom I play, is certain in her mind that a young parish priest is up to no good with one of the boys. That said, it is not a grim play about pedophilia. It becomes a play about how we judge, how we make decisions, how we process, how we proceed. It truly is a parable.''
Jones, who won a Tony for the role during its Broadway run in 2005, is reprising it for a national tour that opened last week at the National Theatre and closes this Sunday, March 25 (for tickets, call 800-447-7400 or visit telecharge.com). Jones cautions that the play is ''not some sort of homophobic play about priests and children. It is a play about our desperate search for truth and the need to know we're right.''
Best known for her stage work (Angels in America, The Heiress) Jones has been out since the onset of her career. She's currently involved with actress Sarah Paulson, but offers no details.
''We have decided because we are both actors and both get interviewed a lot that we're not going to talk about our relationship. It just seems like a healthier thing to do.''
Still, she points out, when on tour, ''We use a lot of air miles and have the phone sort of glued to the ear.''