Strong reviews helped extend Lark Theatre Company's world premiere of Pera Palas, but before taking the likely next step to a larger commercial engagement, the show must end its current run at Off-Broadway's McGinn/Cazale Theatre July 19. The play opened June 11 and was first scheduled to run only to June 28. No word on the play's future plans; it couldn't extend again at the McGinn/Cazale space without changing its contracts.
(Turkey has had a surprising amount of theatre-oriented news this week. On July 16, the NY Times reported that Antonio Banderas had dropped out of a new movie about Turkish leader Kemal Ataturk because of protests from Greek-Americans -- and because he wanted to concentrate on the Phantom of the Opera film.)
Towards the end of the show's run, Pera Palas also underwent a cast change. According to the Shirley Herz press office, Ali Poyrazoglu, a well known Turkish film and TV star, had to fly back home "to complete the filming of a television mini-series." Taking his place -- or places, since Poyrazoglu played both a crabby old woman and a bitter, drunken middle aged man -- is John Spencer, best known for playing Tommy Mullaney on TV's "L.A. Law." Previous theatre credits include Execution of Justice on Broadway and Good As New at Off-Broadway's Manhattan Class Company.
Steven Williford directs Pera Palas, set in Istanbul's legendary Pera Palas Hotel, which inspired both Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express and the bar in Casablanca. Starring are Lou Liberatore (Burn This), Evan Pappas (My Favorite Year, I Can Get It For You Wholesale), Betsy Aidem, Maggie Burke, Defne Halman, Tom Lee, Craig Mathers, Annie Meisels and Jennifer Dorr White.
Though it opened only a few weeks ago, Pera Palas has already received an honor: the Daryl Roth Creative Spirit Award, which comes with a $5,000 grant going to the Lark Theatre Company, to help pay for the residencies of playwright Unel and director Williford. The Roth grant was established to help develop "new work at not-for-profit theatres in NYC." Designing the show are Larry Gruber (set), Mirena Rada (costumes) and Howell Binkley (lighting). James Adler's musical underscoring will be played by Scott Wilson on the oud and saz, traditional Turkish instruments.
Born in Turkey, dramatist Unel now lives in the U.S. Previous plays include A Mad Person's Chronicle of a Miserable Marriage and Thalassa My Heart.
For tickets ($35) and information on Pera Palas at Off-Broadway's McGinn/Cazale Theatre, 2162 Broadway, call (212) 221-8466.
-- By David Lefkowitz