After its short-lived original Broadway run in 1991, La Bête returns to the New York stage by way of London, where the revival debuted June 26 at the Comedy Theatre with the same cast of actors. The limited engagement ran through Sept. 4.
Tony and Olivier Award-winning director Matthew Warchus (God of Carnage, Boeing-Boeing, The Norman Conquests) helms the production, which will officially open Oct. 14 and play a limited engagement through Feb. 13, 2011, at the Music Box Theatre.
Rylance (Boeing-Boeing, Jerusalem) stars as vaudevillian street clown Volere, opposite Hyde Pierce (Curtains, Spamalot) as the uncompromising highbrow playwright Elomire (an anagram for Molière) and Lumley ("Absolutely Fabulous") as the rich patron who forces the two men to align.
The transatlantic cast also includes Stephen Ouimette, Lisa Joyce, Greta Lee, Robert Lonsdale, Michael Milligan, Liza Sadovy, Sally Wingert, Deanne Lorette and Steve Routman.
For the new staging, the role of Prince Conti (originated on Broadway by Dylan Baker) has been changed to Princess Conti, with Lumley in the part. La Bête marks the Broadway return of the Warchus-Rylance collaboration. The two were last represented in the Tony-winning revival of Boeing Boeing and are frequent collaborators in the U.K. “I love outsiders and difficult people," Rylance told Playbill. "I’m attracted to the wit and the observation of character in David Hirson’s writing. David is a rare and unique American talent—adventurous and daring with the English language, in the American tradition. And I love the challenge of the rhymes.”
He continued, "I had a great time with New York audiences at Boeing-Boeing and with my friends in the city. It’s always fun for me to play in the culture of my youth, and I am so excited to be part of La Bête’s long-overdue revival in its place of birth."
According to producers, "La Bête is a comic tour de force about Elomire (Pierce), a high-minded classical dramatist who loves only the theater, and Valere (Rylance), a low-brow street clown who loves only himself. When the fickle princess (Lumley) decides she’s grown weary of Elomire’s royal theatre troupe, he and Valere are left fighting for survival as art squares off with ego in a literary showdown for the ages."
La Bête is produced by Scott Landis & Sonia Friedman Productions, Roger Berlind, Robert G. Bartner/Norman Tulchin, Bob Boyett/Tim Levy, Roy Furman, Max Cooper, Dan Frishwasser, Bud Martin, Philip Morgaman/Frankie J. Grande, and Stephanie P. McClelland/Hagemann-Rosenthal in association with 1001 Nights and Richard Winkler.
The production has set design by Mark Thompson, lighting design by Hugh Vanstone, music by Claire van Kampen and sound design by Simon Baker.
La Bête made its Broadway premiere in 1991, playing 25 performances at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre. The original cast featured Dylan Baker, Micheal Cumpsty and Tom McGowan. The play received acclaim when it arrived in London in 1992, earning the Olivier Award for Best Comedy.
Tickets for the Broadway run are available by phoning (212) 239-6200 or by visiting Telecharge. The Music Box Theatre is located at 239 West 45th Street.