Take Me Out, Richard Greenberg's new play about an incident-packed season of a Yankees-like major league baseball team, will move to Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre in early 2003 following its London and current Off-Broadway world premiere staging.
Carole Shorenstein Hays will present the Donmar Warehouse and The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival production of the play, which has been selling out this fall in its extended run (newly announced to Nov. 24) at the Public's three-quarter Anspacher Theater downtown.
The news, one of the worst-kept secrets in the 2002-03 season, was confirmed by a spokesman for Hays late Oct. 10. Preview and opening dates for the transfer have not yet been determined.
Negotiations for the entire original Donmar/Public cast are underway, though the troupe is expected to repeat its duties at the Kerr, a spokesman said. The creative team's work, including Scott Pask's potent Astro-Turf-trimmed scenic design, will have to be modified for a proscenium house, as will Joe Mantello's direction.
In addition to the much-publicized nudity in the three-act play's locker room scenes, crowds have been wowed by the play's view of baseball as democracy in microcosm, to say nothing of Greenberg's take on celebrity, homophobia, ego, prejudice, friendship and more. Pundits say the confluence of ideas in Take Me Out (the title has many meanings) makes it a likely candidate for the major prizes come spring (Greenberg was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Three Days of Rain). The play's central event involves a superstar ball player (played by Daniel Sunjata) telling the world he's gay and the ramifications of the disclosure, though the play reaches beyond that plot point. Observers have pointed out the incident is just that — incidental to the larger canvas.
A third extension to Nov. 24 at The Public coincided with the Broadway confirmation Oct. 10. Take Me Out began previews Aug. 23 and opened Sept. 5 at The Public. It has been extended three times downtown. The play has been a hot prospect for commercial transfer since its first preview. It will be the third Public Theater production in a year to transfer to Broadway, following Elaine Stritch At Liberty and Topdog/Underdog. The Walter Kerr will be vacated by the two-year-old hit, Proof, Jan. 5, 2003.
Sanguine reviews and pre-opening newspaper articles about Take Me Out's sexual, racial and sports content — to say nothing of the male nude scenes — have fueled intense interest from sports fans and traditional theatregoers alike.
Greenberg has kept New York City supplied with a steady stream of plays lately, included Everett Beekin and The Dazzle, but Take Me Out looks to be his hottest property since Three Days of Rain became one of the most-produced plays in the U.S. He is also the author of Eastern Standard, Night and Her Stars and The Extra Man.
Greenberg, whom nobody would call a sports fan, wrote the play after becoming suddenly obsessed with baseball one recent summer. In the play, Darren Lemming, a young and popular baseball star at the top of his game, calls a press conference and, without telling anyone what he is about to do, comes out to the media. Not surprisingly, there is considerable fallout. A choice bit of dialogue from the work runs: "If I'm gonna have sex — and I am because I'm young and rich and famous and talented and handsome so it's a law — I'd rather do it with a guy, but, when all is said and done...I'd rather just play ball."
The London Donmar Warehouse run played June 20-Aug. 3.
Mantello (who already has Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune on Broadway, and A Man of No Importance Off-Broadway) directs a cast that includes Kevin Carroll (45 Seconds From Broadway, Angels in America), Dominic Fumusa (Tape and [sic]), Gene Gabriel, Neal Huff (The Public's Tempest and Troilus and Cressida), Robert M. Jimenez (The Public's Richard II, Marisol, Othello), Joe Lisi, Denis O'Hare (Cabaret, Ten Unknowns), Kohl Sudduth, Daniel Sunjata (a Lincoln Center Twelfth Night and Williamstown Theatre vet, playing the ballplayer who outs himself), Frederick Weller (The Shape of Things) and James Yaegashi (an Alabama Shakespeare Festival vet).
On Oct. 1, ticket prices for the show increased with the first extension, to $55, from $45.
For tickets, visit The Public Theater box office at 425 Lafayette Street in Manhattan, go online to www.publictheater.org or call Tele-charge at (212) 239 6200.