Byron Jennings, Paul Guilfoyle and Rosemary Murphy have joined the cast of The Geffen Playhouse's new production of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, starring Annette Bening. The show will begin performances March 14 for a five-week run. Opening night is March 24.
Prominent contemporary dramatist Jon Robin Baitz has been tapped to pen a new adaptation of the Ibsen classic. Dan Sullivan will direct.
Also in the cast are such theatre vets as Carolyn McCormick as Thea Elvsted, Patrick O'Connell as Eilert Lovborg and Marjorie Lovett as Berta.
Jennings, who will play George Tesman, has appeared on the New York stage in Dealer's Choice at Manhattan Theatre Club, The Waiting Room at the Vineyard Theatre, A Month in the Country at the Roundabout Theatre Company and Carousel at Lincoln Center Theater. Murphy, cast in the role of Aunt Julia, has logged in decades of theatre work, including roles in the original Off-Broadway cast of Tennessee Williams's Night of the Iguana, and Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance, as well as Look Homeward Angel and Tina Howe's Coastal Disturbances.
Guilfoyle, who plays Judge Brack, appeared on Broadway in Glengarry Glen Ross and Off-Broadway in Death Defying Acts. McCormick performed at the Geffen last year in The Father, opposite Frank Langella. The design team for Hedda Gabler includes Riccardo Hernandez (sets), Dunya Ramicova (costumes), Pat Collins (lighting) and Jon Gottleib (sound).
Bening hasn't done a play since 1988's Spoils of War at NY's Second Stage Theatre. She received a Clarence Derwent Award and a Tony nomination for her role in Tina Howe's Coastal Disturbances, which played at the Second Stage in 1986 and then moved to Broadway. Previously, she'd been a company member at SF's American Conservatory Theatre, the Denver Center, and numerous Shakespeare Festivals. (Bening's Coastal Disturbances Playbill bio notes that during her training years, she'd played many famous women's roles in theatre: Juliet, Lady Macbeth and Eliza Doolittle.)
Bening's film roles include "Mars Attacks!," "The American President," "Bugsy," "Regarding Henry," Ian McKellen's "Richard III" (as Elizabeth) and an Oscar-nominated turn in "The Grifters."
Baitz, new to the adaptation game, is known for his original plays, such as Substance of Fire, A Fair Country, The Film Society and The End of the Day. Show spokesman Gary Murphy said Baitz had completed the adaptation and rehearsals would begin in February. No other cast members have been announced. Dan Sullivan, who has staged several Baitz plays, will direct.
Henrik Ibsen's 1890 drama tells of a woman who marries well but boringly and secretly longs for troubled but passionate poet, Lovborg. When she's faced with blackmail, not to mention the dashing of her idealistic view of Lovborg, she turns to her father's pistol for comfort.
Bening has also been talks with playwright George Furth to appear in his new comedy, Sex, Sex, Sex, Sex, Sex, Sex, Sex, though no time frame or further details are yet available on that show.
Tickets are now on sale. Call (310) 208-5454 for further details on the Geffen Playhouse season.
-- By Robert Simonson