Broadway's Mauritius Closes as Scheduled Nov. 25

News   Broadway's Mauritius Closes as Scheduled Nov. 25 Mauritius, Theresa Rebeck's new play about two sisters in a tug of war over an album of precious postage stamps, ends its limited Broadway run as scheduled Nov. 25.

At close, it will have played 24 previews and 61 regular performances.

For a brief time between Nov. 10-22, the dark comedy was one of only eight shows playing Broadway during the (ongoing) strike by stagehands. On Nov. 23, with the reopening of Broadway's How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the number of Broadway shows was nine, but that dips to eight again with the Sunday closing of Mauritius.

The not-for-profit Manhattan Theatre Club, which produces at Broadway's Biltmore Theatre (as well as at two Off-Broadway spaces at City Center), operates under a different contract than the 27 theatres that were darkened in the strike. Other shows also lighted during the work stoppage include The Ritz, Cymbeline, Pygmalion, Young Frankenstein, …Spelling Bee, Xanadu and Mary Poppins.

Producers and stagehands are expected to resume labor negotiations Nov. 25.

Mauritius opened Oct. 4 after previews since Sept. 13. Tony Award winner Doug Hughes (Doubt) directed. This marked the Broadway debut of Rebeck, whose Bad Dates is a regional theatre sensation, and whose Omnium Gatherum, The Scene and The Water's Edge have been seen Off-Broadway. Omnium, co-written with Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Many critics observed that Mauritius seemed like an homage to plays by David Mamet (most prominently, perhaps, American Buffalo). With its small cast and soft edges, the play is expected to have a successful life in regional theatres in coming seasons.

Philately — postage stamp collecting — is not a subject often addressed on stage, but it's front and center at the Biltmore in a John Lee Beatty-designed production that is mostly set in a shadowy stamp dealer's office in some unnamed city.

With stamp album in hand, Jackie (played by Tony Award nominee Alison Pill) stands at the doorway, seeking to get a stamp collection appraised. Her mother has died, and the stamps are now in her possession. Jackie and her half-sister Mary (played by Tony Award winner Katie Finneran) spar over who really owns those stamps, two of which may be more valuable than anyone imagined.

Three shady stamp lovers (Bobby Cannavale, F. Murray Abraham and Dylan Baker) circle the women.

In this Mametian atmosphere, the spotlight shines on craven characters whose motivations are not always clear. Commerce, negotiation, property, loss, legacy and grief are ideas that swirl in the air like the dust in that airless stamp office.

Audiences have embraced the play as part mystery, part family drama, part crime yarn (is that a gun under Abraham's tailored suit jacket?), part dark comedy and part budding love story. MTC bills the play as a "sinister comedy." The title refers to rare stamps from the island of Mauritius.

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Pill (The Lieutenant of Inishmore) appeared in Blackbird for MTC Off-Broadway; Finneran earned laughs in Broadway's Noises Off revival (for which she won a Tony Award), and was seen in Pig Farm at the Roundabout Off-Broadway; Abraham won the Academy Award for playing Salieri in "Amadeus" and recently starred in The Jew of Malta Off-Broadway; Cannavale appeared in Hurlyburly Off-Broadway and on TV's "Will & Grace" (for which he won an Emmy); Baker was last seen on Broadway in La Bete, which earned him Tony and Drama Desk nominations. He now heads into David Mamet's new Broadway play, November.

Mauritius is a co-production with the Huntington Theatre Company, which recently received the Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Production for the world-premiere production of the play. The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust supports new American plays at Manhattan Theatre Club.

Director Hughes was recently represented on Broadway with the Tony-nominated revival of Inherit The Wind starring Brian Dennehy and Christopher Plummer.

The creative team includes John Lee Beatty (scenic design), Catherine Zuber (costume design), Paul Gallo (lighting design)and David Van Tieghem (original music and sound design).

For information visit www.ManhattanTheatreClub.com.