Known for As Bees in Honey Drown, Uncle Tom's Cabin, As Thousands Cheer and Shanghai Moon, the troupe will partner with The Zipper to stage three works, starting Nov. 21 with an eight-week revival of Patrick Hamilton's Rope, the 1929 melodrama first known as Rope's End and inspired by the Leopold and Loeb murder case. (Alfred Hitchcock made the Hamilton story famous with his film, "Rope.")
David Warren (The Dazzle, Fiction, Harmony) will direct an eight-week run of the play, which will open Dec. 4 and end Jan. 15, 2006.
The cast of Rope will include Ginifer King (Steel Magnolias), John Lavelle (The Graduate), Zack Orth (Woody Allen's "Melinda and Melinda") and Sam Trammell (a Tony Award nominee for Ah, Wilderness! at Lincoln Center). The remainder of the cast will be announced shortly. Casting is by Jodi Collins, CSA.
The two other Drama Dept./Zipper co-productions have not been announced. Artistic director Douglas Carter Beane's new musical with Douglas J. Cohen, The Big Time, earned solid notices and played to sold out houses recently in the New York Musical Theatre Festival, but Drama Dept. executive director Michael S. Rosenberg told Playbill.com the show is aiming for a regional tryout and then Broadway, not The Zipper.
Drama Dept. has stepped away from a regular producing schedule in recent seasons. Even without all three titles revealed, the Zipper partnership marks a return to a concrete producing plan for Drama Dept. (The Zipper Theatre is at 336 W. 37th Street. Its next-door space, The Belt, has been converted into a restaurant offering South of the Border fare.)
Rope, from 1929, "tells the story of two young Oxford men who attempt the perfect murder to prove that they are above ordinary people," according to the Drama Dept./Zipper announcement. "After killing a college friend, Brandon and Granillo hide the body in a trunk in their living room and host a cocktail party, serving dinner off of the trunk. The play has many similarities with the Leopold and Loeb murder case from Chicago."
Alfred Hitchcock adapted the play (Rope's End, which opened at Broadway's The Theatre Masque in September 1929) for his claustrophobic 1948 film.
"In keeping with Drama Dept.'s mission of rediscovering neglected works, this production will mark the first revival of the play in New York in more than 40 years," according to Drama Dept.
Rope's scenic design is by James Youmans, costume design is by Gregory Gale, lighting design is by Jeff Croiter and sound design is by Kai Harada. The production stage manager is Adam Grosswirth.
Director David Warren's Broadway credits include Philip Barry's Holiday at Circle In The Square; Tennessee Williams' Summer and Smoke and Misalliance at the Roundabout, plus Off-Broadway's Hobson's Choice at Atlantic Theatre Co.; Matt & Ben; Drumstruck; Richard Greenberg's The Dazzle, Hurrah at Last (both for Roundabout), Night and Her Stars, and his adaptation of Pal Joey; as well as Harmony by Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman. He is a founding member of Drama Dept.
Playwright Patrick Hamilton is the English novelist and playwright perhaps best known for Broadway's Angel Street, better known as Hollywood's "Gaslight." His novels include "Monday Morning" (1925) and "Craven House" (1926).
Tickets for Rope are priced from $35-$55, and will go on sale Oct. 10 via Telecharge.com at (212) 239-6200) or in-person at The Zipper Theatre Box Office (hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 12 Noon to 5 PM, and one hour prior to curtain beginning Nov. 21).
The performance schedule for Rope is Tuesday-Friday at 8 PM, Saturdays at 3 PM and 8 PM and Sundays at 2 PM and 7 PM.
Thanksgiving Week (Nov. 21-27): Monday-Wednesday at 8 PM, Thursday – DARK, Friday at 8 PM, Saturdays at 3 PM and 8 PM and Sundays at 2 PM and 7 PM.
Christmas Week (Dec. 19-25): Monday-Friday at 8 PM, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 3 PM.
New Year’s Week (Dec. 26-Jan. 1, 2006): Monday-Saturday at 8 PM, Wednesday and Saturday at 3 PM.
Drama Dept. "was conceived in a cheap rental car during the summer of 1994 and birthed in a Sardi's banquet room as a non-profit theatre collective of actors, writers, directors, designers and stage managers." More than a decade after founding the company, the award-winning team of artistic director Douglas Carter Beane and executive director Michael S. Rosenberg "continue to nurture their vision of a community theatre in a professional theatre community." Drama Dept.'s mission is the development and production of new and neglected works of American theatre. To date, this partnership of art and commerce has resulted in the production of 19 acclaimed works including Douglas Carter Beane's As Bees in Honey Drown, David & Amy Sedaris' The Book of Liz, Isaac Mizrahi's Les Mizrahi, the Moss Hart-Irving Berlin musical As Thousands Cheer, Charles Busch's Shanghai Moon and the Tribeca Theater Festival with Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff, plus The Downtown Plays, a production of nine short plays by such writers as Neil LaBute, Kenneth Lonergan, Paul Rudnick, David Henry Hwang and Wendy Wasserstein.
The staging of Rope is a commercial Off-Broadway run.
The Zipper is a renovated zipper factory that has featured theatrical productions, special events, comedy and live music since its opening in 2001. Its residents have recently included Bebe Neuwirth, Roger Rees and Ann Reinking (Here Lies Jenny); Alan Cumming, Stephen Spinella and Vivienne Westwood (Elle); Barry Humphries (Sir Les Patterson Unzipped) ; Henry Rollins (Caught in the Zipper); Lypsinka (The Passion of the Crawford); Sarah Silverman (Jesus is Magic); BETTY and Michael Greif (BETTY Rules); as well as Rosie O'Donnell, Lewis Black, Bob Balaban, Mark Lundholm, John Cameron Mitchell, the Scissor Sisters, Audra McDonald, Idina Menzel, Euan Morton, Tom Wopat, Michael Cerveris, Adam Pascal and Marshall Crenshaw. Once Around the Sun, a new musical, was the last occupant of the funky space, which uses old automobile seats in the L-shaped seating area.
For more information, visit www.zippertheater.com or www.DramaDept.org.