The Chicago Shakespeare Theater's 2001 production of Stephen Sondheim's musical look at the opening of Japan to the West, Pacific Overtures, will be remounted at London's famous Donmar Warehouse, the Windy City theatre announced. The co-production will play the West End in June 2003.
The Chicago staging was what the original Broadway mounting never was: a hit. The rare revival was extended a full month to Jan. 6, 2002, and there was even talk of a New York transfer. New York never bit, but given the Donmar's record of exporting plays to Manhattan, a Gotham production could possibly follow the British engagement.
Gary Griffin will repeat his direction. Several Chicago performers will repeat their performances, including Joseph Anthony Foronda as the Reciter and Kevin Gudahl as Kayama at the Donmar Warehouse. Musical director Tom Murray, set designer Dan Ostling and costume designer Mara Blumenfeld will duplicate their Midwest work overseas.
The musical began performances at CST's Navy Pier home on Oct. 10, 2001, and was to close on Dec. 2 before an extension was announced.
The cast also included Blake Hammond as Shogun's Mother, Christopher Mark Peterson as Manjiro, Niel Friedman as Madam, Richard Manera as Lion Dancer, Nathaniel Stamplet as Warrior, Anthony Hite as Tamate and Jeff Dumas as Dutch Admiral. The original production of Pacific Overtures opened at the Winter Garden Theatre Jan. 11, 1976. Harold Prince directed, using Kabuki-styled techniques. John Weidman wrote the book. It ran only 193 performances.
Donmar has established a reputation for not only transferring its work to Broadway and Off-Broadway, but also staging work by such American playwrights as Richard Greenberg, David Auburn and Stephen Adly Guirgus.
The Donmar's Uncle Vanya and Twelfth Night will play the Brooklyn Academy of Music this fall, and the London theatre's production of Greenberg's Take Me Out will open at Off Broadway's Public Theater last this month. Donmar's most successful transfer, artistic director Sam Mendes's revisioning of Cabaret, continues to run on Broadway.
—By Robert Simonson