Blakemore Wants American Cast for Broadway Democracy

News   Blakemore Wants American Cast for Broadway Democracy
Director Michael Blakemore has said that, should his London hit Democracy make a likely transfer to Broadway, he would insist on an American cast.
Michael Blakemore.
Michael Blakemore.

"I would like to cast this with Americans," Blakemore told Variety. "There's no reason why actors doing a play set in Germany should have English accents. And if you cast the play with people from the country you're playing in, the parallels with the political system in that country come sharply into focus."

The Michael Frayn play began previews at the Royal National Theatre Aug. 30. The show opened on Sept. 9 to embracing reviews. Before and since the premiere, the production has attracted the attendance of Broadway producers and theatre owners. Representatives of the Shubert and Nederlander theatre-owning organizations are expected to take in the show during the first week of October.

The American producer Bob Boyett—who with Bill Haber recently signed a deal with the RNT which would give them first dibs on New York transfers of National shows—said a move to Broadway for Democracy would cost $2.5-$3 million. "It's a brilliant play, brilliantly directed," he said.

Blakemore added that he did not intend to rush Democracy's progress, though many observers have speculated the show might reach New York in February. Variety conjectured that the play would jump to the RNT's larger Lyttelton Theatre in January, stay there until March, then move to the West End, and finally get to Broadway by Tony Award time.

Copenhagen, the last Frayn play to be piloted by Blakemore, landed on Broadway in spring 2000 and won the Best Play Tony Award that season. Copenhagen was based on a real life 1941 meeting between two world-famous physicists, one Danish and one German. Frayn again draws on European history for his new play. Democracy is set in West Germany in 1969, with Chancellor (the German term for Prime Minister) Willy Brandt taking office, little realizing that his personal assistant is spying on him for the East German Secret Service.

The play stars Roger Allam and Conleth Hill. It is performed in the Royal National Theatre's Cottesloe Theatre. Copenhagen also started life at the National.


Boyett also told Variety he was considering bringing the RNT's hit production of Tom Stoppard's Jumpers to New York. "Jumpers is going to be on the list when we get to it," he said.

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