Frayn's Democracy Expected on Broadway in Late October

News   Frayn's Democracy Expected on Broadway in Late October Royal National Theatre's lauded staging of Michael Frayn's Democracy, previously known to be Broadway bound, will begin its U.S. premiere on Broadway Oct. 29 toward a Nov. 18 opening, according to a casting notice.
Conleth Hill (left) and Roger Allam in the Royal National Theatre's production of Democracy
Conleth Hill (left) and Roger Allam in the Royal National Theatre's production of Democracy Photo by Conrad Blakemore

A theatre has not been named for the production, to be produced by Bob Boyett, Ostar Enterprises & Nederlander Presentations, Inc. Dates for the Broadway run have not been officially announced, and tickets are not yet on sale.

The "National Theatre New York" website previously reported Democracy and Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman were headed for the U.S. in the 2004-05 season.

American producers Bob Boyett and Ostar have a deal with the National to get first rights to transfer shows from the National to the U.S. Both plays were nominated for the Olivier Awards Best Play prize. In what might be considered a minor upset, Democracy lost to The Pillowman.

Democracy, about West German politics in 1969 — and specifically the relationship between charismatic German Chancellor Willy Brandt and his P.A. and Stasi spy Gunter Guillaume — has been a big hit for Frayn and the National Theatre. It has won both the Critics' Circle and the London Evening Standard awards for Best Play. Frayn himself, accepting the Critics' Circle bottle of champagne, said how surprised he was that such a boring-sounding subject should do so well.

Michael Blakemore will again direct the play for Broadway. Frayn and Blakemore scored international success with another socio-political drama, Copenhagen. That play won the 2000 Tony Award for Best Play, Best Featured Actress in a Play, Best Direction of a Play. On April 15, 2003, Democracy transferred from the National to the West End. Cast members — including the leads Roger Allam and Conleth Hill — made the jump with it.

It's not known if Brits will jump into the Broadway run, as well, but a casting notice indicates the producers are "seeking an American cast for this production" and that "no accents are needed" (the play has German characters, not British).

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The Pillowman is billed as a "vicious and disturbing comedy" from the Irish writer who gave us the Leenane trilogy — The Beauty Queen of Leenane, A Skull in Connemara and The Lonesome West.

The Pillowman opened at London's National Theatre on Nov. 13, 2003, in the Cottesloe. Drawing inspiration from the nastiness behind many children's tales, McDonagh depicts a writer in a totalitarian state who is interrogated about the horrific events in his short stories (such as fathers being given razor blade-filled apples to eat by their offspring), and, more frighteningly, their similarity to child murders that are occurring in the same town.

John Crowley directs, with designs by Scott Pask, lighting by Hugh Vanstone and sound by Paul Arditti.

McDonagh, who first rose to fame with The Cripple of Inishmaan at the National, returns to the RNT for the first time since then. He was Tony Award-nominated for Best Play two years running, for the Broadway transfers of The Beauty Queen Of Leenane (1998) and The Lonesome West (1999).

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