Darndest Things: Four-Year-Old's Harsh Imaginary World Plays Out in Mr. Marmalade

News   Darndest Things: Four-Year-Old's Harsh Imaginary World Plays Out in Mr. Marmalade Michael C. Hall — of "Six Feet Under" fame — stars as the imaginary, yet volatile, friend of a four-year-old girl in Off-Broadway's Mr. Marmalade which opens Nov. 20 at Roundabout Theatre Company's Laura Pels Theatre.

Michael Greif (Rent) directs the new comedy by Noah Haidle which began previews Nov. 1 in the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre for a run through Jan. 29, 2006.

Mr. Marmalade follows the lives of two very smart children (as played by adults) who deal with adult issues. Neglected four-year-old Lucy, armed with "a precocious vocabulary" and "killer skills in the kitchen," creates an imaginary world where the titular busy businessman continually promises to spend more time with her.

The fantastical world inside the minds of the post-toddlers has been infiltrated by certain realities; "Some very serious, very surprising, very unexpected, adult-like problems," according to Greif. (Read more comments from the director and author in Playbill.com's feature New Comedy Mr. Marmalade Causes Stir — and Controversy — in Off-Broadway Debut.)

Starring as the title character, Hall leads a cast that includes Michael Chernus (A Number, Finer Noble Gases), David Costabile (Caroline or Change, Titanic), newcomer Mamie Gummer (upcoming "Hoax" film), Pablo Schreiber (Manuscript, Sin) and Virginia Louise Smith (The Pillowman, Twentieth Century).

Hall recently ended his Emmy Award-nominated turn as David Fisher in the HBO series "Six Feet Under," a role he landed right after his Emcee duties in the Roundabout's revival of Cabaret. The actor — who did a stint on Broadway in Chicago opposite his wife Amy Spanger during the show's hiatus — has also appeared onstage in Skylight, Corpus Christi, The English Teachers, Cymbeline, Macbeth, Henry V, Timon of Athens, Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing and Camelot. Director Greif, who last stagedSpatter Pattern Off-Broadway and Never Gonna Dance on Broadway is known for his Tony-nominated direction of Rent . His other credits include Machinal, A Bright Room Called Day, Casanova, Marisol, Pericles, Dogeaters and Fuckin' A — all at the Public Theatre. The former La Jolla Playhouse artistic director also helmed The Distance From Here (MCC), Bright Lights Big City (NYTW), Monster (Classic Stage Company), A Few Stout Individuals (Signature Theatre), Betty Rules (Zipper Theatre) and Cavedweller (NYTW).

The design team for Mr. Marmalade features Allen Moyer (sets), Constance Hoffman (costumes), Kevin Adams (lights) and Michael Friedman (original music).

Ethan McSweeny (Gore Vidal's The Best Man) directed the world premiere at California's South Coast Repertory (in April 2004). That run marked the first major production for the new playwright.

Haidle was a Lila Acheson Wallace playwright-in-residence at The Juilliard School in New York City and graduated from Princeton University in the spring of 2001. His Princess Marjorie also made its world premiere at SCR. Other works include Kitty Kitty Kitty (inaugural Summer Play Festival) and Rag and Bone (Long Wharf Theatre's New American Voices).

Tickets for Mr. Marmalade at the Laura Pels Theatre, located at 111 West 46th Street are available by calling Roundabout Ticket Services at (212) 719-1300. For more information, go online to www.roundabouttheatre.org.

From Left: Mamie Gummer and Michael C. Hall in <i>Mr. Marmalade</i>.
From Left: Mamie Gummer and Michael C. Hall in Mr. Marmalade. Photo by Joan Marcus