Puritans may have landed on Plymouth Rock, but it'll be the very un -Puritanical Mrs. Robinson who will land at Broadway's Plymouth Theatre March 15 when Terry Johnson's adaptation of the film classic The Graduate begins previews. Opening April 4, The Graduate stars Kathleen Turner as Mrs. R, Alicia Silverstone as her daughter Elaine, and Jason Biggs as Benjamin Braddock.
These names, along with the known-quantity name value of the project, seem to have registered with ticket buyers both in New York and out of town. As reported by the New York Times (Jan. 11) and confirmed by a spokesperson at the Barlow-Hartman press office, The Graduate sold out its Jan. 10-20 run at Baltimore's Mechanic Theatre as well as its monthlong run, Jan. 23-Feb. 17, at Toronto's Canon Theatre. The last stop, Boston, which starts Feb. 20, has already sold so well, an extra week has been added, pushing the run there till March 10.
The $1.8 million production also has a healthy springboard for its Broadway launch. The advance is currently $2.7 million and, according to the Times, may rise to $5 mil by the time previews start. Weekly running costs are pegged at $250K per week.
Rehearsals began the week of Dec. 10, with the supporting cast including Murphy Guyer, Kate Skinner, Victor Slezak, Larry Cahn, Susan Cella, John Hillner, Jurian Hughes, Robert Emmet Lunney, Judson Pearce Morgan and Kelly Overton. Designing the show are Rob Howell (sets/costumes), Hugh Vanstone (lighting) and Christopher Cronin (sound). Barrington Pheloung has composed and arranged original music for the piece, which to date has remained most closely associated with the Simon and Garfunkel songs sprinkled throughout Mike Nichols' 1967 film version.
The Graduate is written by Terry Johnson, adapted from the original novel by Charles Webb and the motion picture screenplay by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry. The piece tells of a naive college graduate facing a hollow middle-class future (possibly "in plastics"). His secret dalliance with Mrs. Robinson, an older woman who seduces him, broadens his perspective but also, understandably, jeopardizes his relationship with her daughter. Author-director Johnson also staged the London mounting, produced in the West End (and on Broadway) by John Reid and Sacha Brooks. The show opened at the Gielgud April 5, 2000. Reid and Brooks are still the lead producers, in association with Clear Channel Entertainment and StudioCanal. EGS (Nina Essman, Nancy Nagel Gibbs and David Stone) is the general management team. When that production ends Jan. 19, it's estimated that profits will be in the $10 million range.
Prior to the ramping of The Graduate for Broadway, actress Turner had been promised in a solo turn, Tallulah (which toured to the aforementioned Mechanic Theatre). The "Romancing the Stone," "Body Heat" and Indiscretions actress played the elegant, heavy-lidded Tallulah Bankhead in the show, which premiered in Chichester in 1997 and enjoyed a run at FL's Coconut Grove Theatre in 1999. Silverstone is best known for the film "Clueless" and for being a "Batman" Batgirl, while Biggs starred in "American Pie."
Turner originated the Mrs. Robinson role in April 2000 and caused a sensation by dropping a towel and appearing naked, albeit briefly and in dim lighting. After Turner came Jerry Hall, Amanda Donohoe, Anne Archer and, currently, Linda Gray. The part was first made famous by Anne Bancroft.