A revival of John Osborne's The Entertainer, directed by David Esbjornson and starring Brian Murray and Jean Stapleton, will kick off Classic Stage Company's 29th season with performances beginning Nov. 7.
If the teaming of the play with Esbjornson and Murray sounds familiar, it's because the production was initially scheduled to open the new season at Broadway's Circle in the Square Theatre. The financial crisis at Circle, followed by arrival of new artistic director Gregory Mosher led to the scrapping of the project from the troubled Broadway theatre.
According to Denise Robert, spokesman for the Off-Broadway Classic Stage Company (where director Esbjornson is Artistic Director), this production of The Entertainer actually originated with CSC before making its aborted run for Broadway. When Circle scrapped its entire season (which also included George Bernard Shaw's Misalliance, Sidney Howard's The Late Christopher Bean, and Elmer Rice's Counselor at Law), CSC "reclaimed" The Entertainer for itself.
The limited engagement opens Nov. 13, and run through Dec. 8.
The Entertainer is the portrait of fading vaudevillian Archie Rice, set against the backdrop of England's last grasp at world power. Murray will play Rice and Stapleton his distraught wife Phoebe. Murray received the Drama League Award for his heralded performance in last year's Entertaining Mr. Sloane at CSC. Stapleton's previous CSC credits include Bon Appetit, Learned Ladies, and The Birthday Party. Completing the cast of The Entertainer are Kate Forbes, Brian McEvoy, and Douglas Seale. In conjunction with this production, on Monday, November 25 at 7 PM, CSC will offer "Look Back at Osborne," a staged reading of excerpts from John Osborne's Look Back In Anger. The reading will be at CSC and admission is free.
For tickets or information on The Entertainer, call (212) 677-4210.
-- by Andrew Ku