Cast Set for Off-Broadway's Omnium Gatherum; Starts Sept. 9

News   Cast Set for Off-Broadway's Omnium Gatherum; Starts Sept. 9 The cast for the Off-Broadway production of Omnium Gatherum, the topical drama by Theresa Rebeck and Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros, has been announced.

The play caught critics' and producers' attention at the 2003 Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville this past March. The New York cast includes many of the Louisville production's stars, including Kristine Nielsen, Dean Nolen, Phillip Clark and Edward J. Hajj. Also in the cast are Amir Arison, Jenny Bacon, Melanna Gray and Joseph Lyle Taylor. The play will begin previews at Off-Broadway's Variety Arts Theatre Sept. 9. Opening night is Sept. 25. Will Frears, the director at Louisville, will repeat his work in New York. David Rockwell will design the set. Rockwell's set will differ from what was seen in Kentucky, the designer told Playbill On-Line. The producers of the New York mounting are Robert Cole, Joyce Johnson and Max Cooper, in association with Charles Flateman/Kerrin Behrend and Jujamcyn Theaters. The involvement of Jujamcyn seems to indicate that a Broadway transfer for the praised work is not out of the question.

Omnium depicts a contentious dinner party, possibly taking place in hell. Among the guests are characters who resemble such turbulent (and talkative) social forces as journalist Christopher Hitchens, homemaker mogul Martha Stewart, novelist Tom Clancy and Palestinian-American educator and author Edward Said. The play is described as "An urgent, impassioned and hilarious conversation about the implications of the Sept. 11 attacks and beyond."

The overall plan for the play, a spokesman for Rebeck previously told Playbill On-Line, is to open it at several theatres across the nation at roughly the same time, while allowing the New York staging to be the first out of the gate. Some of the regional houses interested in the script want to open their seasons with Omnium.

Rebeck is the author of such plays as The Butterfly Collection, The Family of Mann and Spike Heels. She has often been produced at Playwrights Horizons, which has not yet announced its 2003-04 season. Her solo play, Bad Dates, about a restaurant manager who juggles motherhood, work and a collection of bad dates with jerks, premiered at PH in June and was extended to July 13.

Gersten-Vassilros' work has frequently been seen at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company. One play, My Thing of Love, reached Broadway in 1995, where it lasted a mere 12 performances, despite a cast headed by Laurie Metcalf. Tickets are $66.25. For information, call (212) 239-6200.