The Public Theater, Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel will present a limited 78-performance Broadway engagement of Merchant, which will continue through Jan. 9, 2011. Pacino is the only cast member announced to reprise his performance. Additional casting and an on-sale date will be announced shortly.
In early June Playbill.com reported that Richards had been approaching investors for a Broadway transfer of the Shakespeare play as well as the Public Theater production of the rock musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. The latter will arrive on Broadway in September. The same producers aligned to bring the Tony Award-winning revival of Hair to Broadway and the West End.
Directed by Tony Award winner Daniel Sullivan (Proof), The Merchant of Venice began previews at Central Park's Delacorte Theater June 12 and officially opened June 30. The production concludes its repertory run alongside The Winter's Tale Aug. 1. Critics praised Merchant, which co-stars Lily Rabe as Portia, Byron Jennings as Antonio, Heather Lind as Jessica, Hamish Linklater as Bassanio, Jesse L. Martin as Gratiano and Bill Heck as Lorenzo.
Pacino's casting in the free summer staging of the play turned Merchant of Venice into one of the most sought after tickets in town. Theatregoers routinely line up along Central Park West a day ahead of time, in order to be the first in line to snag free tickets.
The Shakespeare in the Park production of Merchant marks Pacino's second trip to Venice. He also appeared as Shylock in Michael Radford's screen adaptation of Merchant to acclaim in 2004. Pacino last appeared on Broadway in Oscar Wilde's Salome: The Reading in 2003. The Broadway run of Merchant will reunite the Shakespeare in the Park creative team, including Mark Wendland (scenic design), Jess Goldstein (costume design for Merchant), Clint Ramos (costume design), Kenneth Posner (lighting design) and Acme Sound Partners (sound design). Dan Moses Schreier penned original music for Merchant of Venice.
"The stunning success of our Shakespeare repertory in Central Park this summer will be celebrated by the move of The Merchant of Venice to Broadway," said Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis in a statement. "This is a Merchant for our time and our place; thrilling, powerful, American. What fantastic evidence that Shakespeare can speak to us as profoundly now as he did 400 years ago."
Pacino earned a Tony Award for his Broadway debut in Does a Tiger Wear Necktie? and was also honored with a Tony Award for The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel. Pacino starred in the 1996 production of Hughie, which he also directed. In addition to his stage roles in Camino Real, King Richard III, American Buffalo and Chinese Coffee, he is well known for the films "Scent of a Woman" (Academy Award), "The Godfather," "Scarface," "Dog Day Afternoon," "Frankie and Johnny," "Glengarry Glen Ross," "Ocean's Thirteen" and "Angels in America."