Though Stephen Jeffreys' The Libertine made waves at London's Royal Court Theatre, and a big splash at Steppenwolf (where John Malkovich starred as Lord Rochester), an expected New York and regional life for the drama never materialized. The show is receiving only its second U.S. mounting beginning Jan. 9 at Off-Broadway's Theatre Row Theatre. (Jan. 8 was supposed to be the first preview, but because a little more work was needed, it has instead become an open dress rehearsal.)
Opening Jan. 11 and running to Jan. 25, The Libertine follows Lord Rochester, a trusted friend of King Charles II. A rake and roue, his behavior would be inexcusable in someone without his wealth, privilege and protection. Thus does Jeffreys point up the decadence and hypocrisy of 17th century England -- and, one gathers, modern times as well.
Directing the Libertine is RSC-trained Stephen Hollis, former artistic director of the UK's Watford Palace Theatre. His U.S. directing assignments have included stints at Cincinnati Playhouse, Manhattan Theatre Club and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Starring in the Libertine are Mark Vietor as Rochester, Carrie Preston (The Tempest), Richie Coster, Carole Healey, Karl Kenzler, Anderson Mathews, Aideen O'Kelly, Will Pennick, Tod Randolph, Vinnie Rutherford, Jeannette Simpson, Doug Stender and Jeff Woodman. Designing the show are Deanna Berg (costumes), Doug Huszti (sets), Jeff Croiter (lighting) and Patrick Gallagher (sound).
For tickets ($15) and information on The Libertine at the Theatre Row Theatre, 424 West 42nd St., call (212) 279-4200. -- By David Lefkowitz