Amy Irving and Jason Butler Harner Join Cast of Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia

News   Amy Irving and Jason Butler Harner Join Cast of Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia Amy Irving and Jason Butler Harner have joined the cast of the fall 2006 U.S. debut of Tom Stoppard's ambitious three-part play known as The Coast of Utopia, Lincoln Center Theater confirmed.

Amy Irving
Amy Irving Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Jason Butler Harner will play the novelist Ivan Turgenev ("Fathers and Sons"). Harner has been a constant presence on the New York stage in the past two seasons, appearing in The Paris Letter, Hedda Gabler, The Ruby Sunrise and Orange Flower Water.

Amy Irving will play two characters in different parts of the play, Varvara Bakunin (the mother of Ethan Hawke’s character, Michael Bakunin) and Maria Ogarev (the estranged wife of Josh Hamiton’s character, the poet Nicholas Ogarev). She was recently seen Off-Broadway in A Safe Harbour for Elizabeth Bishop.

As previously reported, the cast features Billy Crudup, Richard Easton, Jennifer Ehle, Josh Hamilton, David Harbour, Ethan Hawke, Martha Plimpton and Brían F. O'Byrne. Easton won a Tony Award for his performance in 2001's The Invention of Love. Ehle won her Tony for the 2000 revival of The Real Thing. And, Crudup first made his mark as part of the 1995 Lincoln Center Theater U.S. premiere of Stoppard's Arcadia.

Plimpton and O'Byrne were recently in the Broadway cast of Conor McPherson's Shining City. Hamilton most recently acted on the New York stage in Hurlyburly, which also featured Hawke, whose credits also include the LCT production of Henry IV (where he co-starred with Easton). Harbour won a Tony Award nomination for the recent Broadway revival of Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

In Utopia, O'Byrne will play the mid-19th century Russia radical theorist and editor, Alexander Herzen. Stephen Dillane essayed the part in London. Crudup will play literary critic Vissarion Belinsky. Hawke is the aristocrat-turned-anarchist Michael Bakunin and Hamilton will be the poet Nicholas Ogarev. Easton, Ehle, Harbour and Plimpton will be featured in multiple roles throughout the three-part work. The trilogy will begin on Oct. 17 with the first performance of the first part, Voyage. All three parts will have opened and concluded their runs by March 3, 2007. The parts will open separately, one after another. They will begin to play in rep later in the schedule.

Individual preview and opening dates are as follows:

Part One – Voyage
Previews begin: Tuesday, October 17
Opening night: Sunday, November 5

Part Two – Shipwreck
Previews begin: Tuesday, Dec. 5
Opening night: Thursday, Dec. 21

Part Three – Salvage
Previews begin: Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2007
Opening Night: Thursday, Feb. 15, 2007

During the final three-and-one-half weeks of the production's run, audiences will have the opportunity to see all three parts in succession. Also, on three Saturdays—Feb. 24, March 3 and March 10—theatregoers will be able to see all three plays in one-day marathons beginning at 11 AM.

The play will have sets by Bob Crowley and Scott Pask, costumes by Catherine Zuber, lighting by Natasha Katz, Brian MacDevitt and Kenneth Posner and original music and sound design by Mark Bennett.

Jack O'Brien, the Broadway director of Hairspray, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Henry IV and The Invention of Love, will helm the New York bow of the nine-hour Coast of Utopia triptych.

The works first appeared under the direction of Trevor Nunn in 2002 at the National Theatre in England.

The Coast of Utopia is centered on the political and philosophical idealism and debates of mid-nineteenth-century Russia, examining the movements that excited artists and thinkers in those days. The show moves chronologically on from the 1830s, when the great Romantic poet Pushkin was still alive and his epic poem "Eugene Onegin" was all the rage in educated circles.

The main characters are the anarchist Michael Bakunin (played by Douglas Henshall in London) who was to challenge Marx (played by Paul Ritter) for the soul of the masses; Ivan Turgenev (played by Guy Henry), author of some of the most enduring works in Russian literature; the brilliant, erratic young critic Vissarion Belinsky (played by Will Keen); and Alexander Herzen (played by Stephen Dillane).

LCT has produced Stoppard's Hapgood and Arcadia.