Broadway Run of Acclaimed Jerusalem Ends Aug. 21; It's London-Bound

News   Broadway Run of Acclaimed Jerusalem Ends Aug. 21; It's London-Bound
 
Jerusalem, Jez Butterworth's three-act tragicomic play about the indelible inhabitants of a slice of rural England, for which Mark Rylance won his second Tony Award, ends its extended Broadway engagement on Aug. 21.

Mark Rylance
Mark Rylance Photo by Simon Annand

The production returns to England for a 14-week run in the West End.

Director Ian Rickson's Royal Court Theatre production of Butterworth's three-hour work at the Music Box earned a fascinated cult (and solid reviews) for its yeasty mix of English themes, tall-tale-telling characters and drugs and violence.

Rylance will reprise his Olivier and Tony-winning performance as Johnny "Rooster" Byron — a crude, dope-dealing ex-daredevil who knows his way around a yarn but is losing his place in the world — when the play resurfaces at the Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, in London Oct. 8.

Rylance won his second Tony Award (after Boeing-Boeing) for playing Rooster, who lives in a mobile home on the outskirts of an English town whose leaders plan to bull-doze him to make way for development. He also won the New York Drama Critics Circle, Drama League and Outer Critics Circle Awards for his performance.

Butterworth won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Play. The production also stars 2011 Tony nominee Mackenzie Crook as Ginger, Max Baker as Wesley, Alan David as The Professor, Aimeé-Ffion Edwards as Phaedra, Geraldine Hughes as Dawn, Danny Kirrane as Davey, Charlotte Mills as Tanya, Sarah Moyle as Ms. Fawcett, Molly Ranson as Pea, Harvey Robinson as Mr. Parsons, Barry Sloane as Troy Whitworth, and Aiden Eyrick and Mark Page alternating in the role of Marky.

During the Broadway run, Jay Sullivan stepped into the role of Lee, the Australia-bound slacker, on July 19, succeeding John Gallagher, Jr.

The production was nominated for six Tonys this year, including one for Best Play. Jerusalem began previews April 2 and opened April 21. A limited 16-week engagement was originally announced; four weeks were added.

Mackenzie Crook
photo by Simon Annand

The title of the play refers to an 1804 poem by William Blake (about Jesus' supposed sojourn to England), which later became a hymn that is beloved in England, according to a helpful note in the Playbill. Read Playbill.com's recent special feature, A Guide to Jerusalem's Cultural Allusions and Iconic References.

Jerusalem opened at the Royal Court Theatre in July 2009 with critics praising Butterworth for his darkly comic ode to a disappearing way of life — or the disappearing larger-than-life characters — in provincial England. The play is set on April 23, St. George's Day, once a major holiday in England.

The production played an extended sold-out run at the Royal Court before moving to the Apollo Theatre in the West End in January 2010, where critics again embraced it.

When it first appeared, Butterworth writes in a note in his script, the play "was described as a State of the Nation piece, which is odd because I have absolutely no idea what the State of the Nation might be."

He added, "I live on a farm in the middle of nowhere. I don't read the newspaper, or go to London much. Although the play is set in England, on an English saint's day, I guess I was really trying to write something about the passing of time. About how we move on. But to be honest, I wrote whatever gave me goose-bumps. I figured if I got goose-bumps writing it, then maybe the audience might get goose-bumps."

Jerusalem is set in 2011, in a clearing in the woods, in Flintock, Wiltshire, England. At the back of the clearing stands an old 40-foot mobile home. This is the home of the broken, hard-drinking central character, Johhny "Rooster" Byron, whose supply of drugs, tall tales, booze and rock music draws young people to him.

Mark Rylance shows off his second Tony Award.
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Here's how the producers characterize the play: "In the woods of South West England, Johnny 'Rooster' Byron (Mark Rylance), former daredevil motorcyclist and modern-day Pied Piper, is a wanted man. The council officials want to serve him an eviction notice, his son wants to be taken to the country fair, a stepfather wants to give him a serious kicking and a motley crew of friends wants his ample supply of drugs and alcohol."

Rylance won enthusiastic reviews in 2010 for his performance as Valere in David Hirson's La Bête, on Broadway and in the West End, directed by Matthew Warchus. He won the 2008 Tony Award and Drama Desk for Best Actor in a Play and a Theatre World Award for his New York stage debut as Robert in Boeing-Boeing. He is a two-time winner of the Olivier Award for Jerusalem (2010) and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing (1993). Rylance was the artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe from 1996 to 2005 and also served as an associate actor of the RSC, acting in 48 plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Read the spring 2011 Playbill magazine feature about Rylance.

Butterworth is the author of five plays: Mojo (Royal Court 1995); The Night Heron (Royal Court 2002); The Winterling (Royal Court 2006); Parlour Song (Almeida 2009); and Jerusalem (Royal Court 2009). Rickson's Broadway credits include the critically acclaimed Royal Court Theatre production of Chekhov's The Seagull, starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Peter Sarsgaard and Mackenzie Crook, and Conor McPherson's The Weir.

Jerusalem has scenic and costume design by Ultz, lighting design by Mimi Jordan Sherin and sound design by Ian Dickinson for Autograph. The composer is Stephen Warbeck.

The fall 2011 West End cast will also include Mackenzie Crook (Ginger) as well as Max Baker (Wesley), Alan David (The Professor), Aimeé-Ffion Edwards (Phaedra), Johnny Flynn (Lee), Geraldine Hughes (Dawn), Danny Kirrane (Davey), Charlotte Mills (Tanya), Sarah Moyle (Ms. Fawcett) and Harvey Robinson (Mr. Parsons).

For more information, visit www.JerusalemBroadway.com.

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