Henshall to Make a Passion Play at OB's Minetta Lane

News   Henshall to Make a Passion Play at OB's Minetta Lane Peter Nichols' Passion Play, seen on Broadway under the title "Passion" back in 1983, is getting a New York revival this spring Off Broadway. Ruthie Henshall will star in a production of the drama to open at the Minetta Lane Theatre in April, according to a spokesperson at the venue.

Peter Nichols' Passion Play, seen on Broadway under the title "Passion" back in 1983, is getting a New York revival this spring Off Broadway. Ruthie Henshall will star in a production of the drama to open at the Minetta Lane Theatre in April, according to a spokesperson at the venue.

In Passion Play, after 25 years of marriage, a successful man still in love with his wife is attracted to a younger and sexually voracious woman, Kate, whose temptations he's unable to resist. As trust collapses, husband and wife Eleanor and James are left floundering and exposed.

The play premiered in 1981 at the Royal Shakespeare Company and came to Broadway, where it was directed by Marshall Mason and starred Frank Langella, Cathryn Damon and Roxanne Hart.

Actress Henshall made her first U.S. splash when she crossed the pond to be in Chicago. She's currently playing Ellen in Miss Saigon as that show finishes its Broadway mega-run. Henshall's previous Broadway assignment was in the Sondheim revue, Putting it Together. The actress won an Olivier Award for her work in London's She Loves Me and was an ensemble member in London's Miss Saigon before assuming the role of Ellen there.

As reported by Broadway.com, a season ago, Passion Play was revived in a popular run at the Donmar Warehouse, which wanted to transfer its production to New York but could not get the rights to the play, which are held by Elinor Renfield. Renfield directed the play in the late 1980s at the Arena Stage in Washington, DC, and will stage the Off-Broadway production. "The play is a masterpiece, and I have been thinking about it and living with it for many years," Renfield told the Post in August. Passion Play is the second 1980s infidelity play play recently revived by the Donmar to get stage time in New York. Tom Stoppard's 1982 play, The Real Thing, starring Stephen Dillane and Jennifer Ehle, transferred to the Albery Theatre before moving on to Broadway's Barrymore Theatre, where it won the Tony for Best Revival of a Play.

The recent London mounting, not connected to the New York production, was directed by Michael Grandage and starred Cherie Lunghi ("Excalibur") and James Laurenson as the married couple, with Cheryl Campbell and Martin Jarvis playing their argumentative alter-egos. At the Comedy Theatre, Jarvis was replaced by Nick Henson. Nicola Walker and Gillian Barge also transferred with the rest of the cast to the new venue.

Nichols' other plays include A Day in the Death of Joe Egg and Privates on Parade. Passion Play won the 1981 Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Play.

Further casting and a design team have yet to be announced for Passion Play at the Minetta Lane. Rehearsals begin in February, with Roy Gabay serving as general manager and Richard Kornberg & Associates handling publicity. The last Minetta tenant, Anne Meara's Down the Garden Paths, closed Jan. 14.

-- By David Lefkowitz
and Terri Paddock
What's On Stage, London