Drugs, Sex and Hollywood Underscore Rabe's Revised Hurlyburly Off-Broadway

News   Drugs, Sex and Hollywood Underscore Rabe's Revised Hurlyburly Off-Broadway David Rabe's 1980's Los Angeles-set Hurlyburly opens Off-Broadway as Scott Elliott stages the revised work anew with Ethan Hawke, Wallace Shawn, Parker Posey, Bobby Cannavale and Josh Hamilton.
Parker Posey (seated) and Ethan Hawke in Hurlyburly
Parker Posey (seated) and Ethan Hawke in Hurlyburly Photo by Carol Rosegg

The New Group presentation began previews Jan. 11 at the Acorn Theatre in Theatre Row — where the company is in residence. The work opens Jan. 27 for a run currently set through March 5.

Interspersed with 80's music (Talking Heads, Queen and David Bowie) and occasional glimpses of the world through the set's pre-remote-controlled television ("The Smurfs," "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson"), Rabe's drama follows the lives of four men working the Hollywood machine. The quartet pontificate on their ex-wives, friendships and work while enduring life through vices (drugs, alcohol and women).

"It's quite different than the one that was performed Off-Broadway and on Broadway back 20 years ago," director Elliott (Aunt Dan and Lemon) told Playbill.com about Rabe's new script for his troupe's staging. "The reason to do a revival with a writer who is still alive is so that they can realize it in a way that's different if they want to."

The now two-act drama includes a scene cut from the original production. "There's a crucial character development [in the cut scene] that was never seen in New York. [Rabe] wanted to put it back in," explained Elliott. Rabe also made trims to the script to counterbalance the length of the work.

The starry company of the current Off-Broadway run is known for their work on screen as well as stage. Hawke's credits include Henry IV and "Reality Bites"; Shawn's include Aunt Dan and Lemon and "The Princess Bride"; Posey has been in Fifth of July and "Waiting for Guffman"; Cannavale has acted in Fucking A and "The Station Agent"; Hamilton was featured in Proof and "With Honors"; Catherine Kellner was seen in The Long Christmas Ride Home and "200 Cigarettes"; and Halley Wegryn Gross appeared in True Love and "Third Watch". Hurlyburly ran Off-Broadway in 1984 with Mike Nichols directing a cast that included William Hurt, Judith Ivey, Harvey Keitel, Cynthia Nixon, Ron Silver, Jerry Stiller and Sigourney Weaver. The work then transferred to Broadway garnering four Tony nominations (with one win for Ivey). Rabe later adapted it for the screen for the 1998 film starring Sean Penn, Kevin Spacey, Anna Paquin, Meg Ryan, Chazz Palminteri and Robin Wright Penn.

The design team of Hurlyburly includes Derek McLane (sets), Jeff Mahshie (costumes), Jason Lyons (lights) and Ken Travis (sound). J. Steven White serves as fight director while Valerie Peterson is production stage manager.

Tickets to Hurlyburly at The New Group's home at Theatre Row, 410 West 42 St., are available by calling (212) 279-4200. For more information on The New Group, visit www.thenewgroup.org.

Catherine Kellner and Ethan Hawke in <i>Hurlyburly</i>
Catherine Kellner and Ethan Hawke in Hurlyburly Photo by Carol Rosegg
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