Aquila artistic director Peter Meineck penned the stage adaptation of the novel. Performances will begin Nov. 14 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre Off-Broadway and will continue through Dec. 20. Opening night is Nov. 23.
Lavelle, who has appeared in The Graduate and Burleigh Grimes, will star as B-25 bombardier Yossarian, who is "based on a small island off the coast of Italy in 1944," according to press notes. "He starts to question the futile and ridiculous administration of his air base and seeks a way to preserve his life when the whole world around him seems to be going mad. Like a modern-day Achilles, Yossarian protests with powerful and often hilarious results. Catch 22 tackles huge things with rich metaphors, boldly drawn characters and near-impossible situations. It is a work of great theatricality with superb language and a sense of dark surrealism. Heller dares to examine the very philosophy of war and what it does to the humans that fight them."
In a statement director Meineck said, "Yossarian is one of the most iconic and elusive roles in American literature. Paul Newman spent a year studying the role, never to play it, Richard Dreyfus signed on for a pilot that was never made. Jack Lemmon, Eli Wallach, Anthony Quinn and Ben Gazzara all lobbied for the role that famously went to Alan Arkin for the 1972 Mike Nichols film. Brooklyn born John Lavelle inherently understands Heller's biting, absurdist satire (Heller hailed from Coney Island) and will bring a new intensity, verve and clarity to Yossarian. As modern day Milo Minderbinder's play havoc with the stock market and contemporary Colonel Cathcart's place the lives of our troops at risk for political gain this is the right time for Catch-22 to be seen on stage. We are all greatly looking forward to seeing Yossarian live again."
Complete casting and creative duties will be announced shortly.
The Aquila Theatre Company was founded in London in 1991 by Meineck and has been based in New York City since 1999. Aquila's mission is to bring the greatest theatrical works to the greatest number. Aquila presents a regular season of plays in New York, at international festivals, and tours to approximately 70 American towns and cities a year. The Aquila performance approach is a technique developed by Meineck "that combines text and physical action based in a theory of theatrical unity." The technique is aimed "to create an aesthetic environment where the performer can create and recreate a role in a consistently changing theatrical atmosphere." For more information visit www.aquilatheatre.com.