Alan Bates found the New York stage hospitable a year ago when he co starred, to strongly positive notices, opposite Eileen Atkins in The Unexpected Man. Now the actor appears poised to make a return to the Big Apple in a rarely-staged Turgenev play adapted by Michael Poulton, Fortune's Fool. The show will reach a Broadway venue to be announced in early March.
According to spokespersons at the Stamford Center for the Arts in Connecticut and The Publicity Office, Michael Poulton's play will try out there, Feb. 22-March 3, 2002) as a "pre-Broadway engagement," via producers Ben Sprecher, Roy L. Furman and Julian Schlossberg. Noted film director Arthur Penn ("Bonnie and Clyde") will helm, with Jane Greenwood creating the costumes and John Arnone the set.
As reported by Variety, the show's three producers have formed the "SFS" production company, which has either secured the rights to, or commissioned new works from, A.R. Gurney, Kenneth Lonergan, Elaine May and Edna O'Brien. SFS will produce for both Broadway and Off, with budgets for the former running $1.5-2 million and the latter in the $600 $800K range. "We have a multimillion-dollar fund to produce new work," Furman told Variety. Added Sprecher, "We're interested in producing theater that is artistically interesting as well as potentially profitable. It's not about making money back. It's about making a profit."
Producer Schlossberg told Playbill On-Line, "What's exciting about this is the very clear way we're divided up. I'm generally involved in the artistic aspects — finding writers, hiring directors, casting. Roy is involved in financing. Ben gets the theatres and production contracts. And we're very happy with this arrangement; it's as good a structure as I've seen. Plus, all of us have worked together on many projects. We know can get along."
Actor Bates, a Tony winner for 1973's Butley and a film star via "An Unmarried Woman" and "Women in Love." recently donated £50,000 to The Actors' Centre in Covent Garden. It was a display of both generosity and family loyalty in helping refurbish the Tristan Bates Theatre, the Centre's auditorium. The theatre, which Bates helped found, is named in honor of his son, a model, who died at age 19, some ten years ago, of complications following an asthma attack when working in Japan. Bates's other son, Tristan's twin, is Benedick Bates who appeared earlier this year at the Lyric, Shaftesbury Avenue, in Thelma Holt's production of Noel Coward's Semi Monde. He is currently touring with his father in a stage version of Oscar Wilde's The Picture Of Dorian Gray. The Stamford Center is currently readying for its November, pre-New York run of the musical Summer of `42. The season will also see a transfer of Long Wharf Theatre's An Infinite Ache (Jan. 29-Feb. 3, 2002).
Poulton's Fortune's Fool is unrelated to the Frederick Stroppel comedy Fortunes Fools which played Off-Broadway's Cherry Lane Theatre in 1995. The producers are hoping for two other "name" actors to join Bates in the show.