Lincoln Center Theater Begins Its Long Voyage to Stoppard's Utopia Oct. 17

News   Lincoln Center Theater Begins Its Long Voyage to Stoppard's Utopia Oct. 17 The first installment of Tom Stoppard's ambitious three-part play known as The Coast of Utopia will begin performances at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater on Oct. 17.

The Coast of Utopia is centered on the political and philosophical idealism and debates of mid-nineteenth-century Russia, examining the movements that excited artists and thinkers in those days. The show moves chronologically on from the 1830s, when the great Romantic poet Pushkin was still alive and his epic poem "Eugene Onegin" was all the rage in educated circles.

Jack O'Brien, the Broadway director of Hairspray, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Henry IV and The Invention of Love, will helm the New York bow of the nine-hour Coast of Utopia triptych.

Heading the large cast are Billy Crudup, Richard Easton, Jennifer Ehle, Josh Hamilton, David Harbour, Ethan Hawke, Martha Plimpton, Amy Irving, Jason Butler Harner and Brían F. O'Byrne.

Easton won a Tony Award for his performance in 2001's The Invention of Love. Ehle won her Tony for the 2000 revival of The Real Thing. Crudup first made his mark as part of the 1995 Lincoln Center Theater U.S. premiere of Stoppard's Arcadia.

Plimpton and O'Byrne were recently in the Broadway cast of Conor McPherson's Shining City. Hamilton most recently acted on the New York stage in Hurlyburly, which also featured Hawke, whose credits also include the LCT production of Henry IV (where he co-starred with Easton). Harbour earned a Tony Award nomination for the recent Broadway revival of Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Harner has been a constant presence on the New York stage in the past two seasons, appearing in The Paris Letter, Hedda Gabler, The Ruby Sunrise and Orange Flower Water. Irving was recently seen Off-Broadway in A Safe Harbour for Elizabeth Bishop.

In Utopia, O'Byrne plays the mid-19th century Russia radical theorist and editor, Alexander Herzen. Stephen Dillane essayed the part in London. Crudup plays literary critic Vissarion Belinsky. Hawke is the aristocrat-turned-anarchist Michael Bakunin and Hamilton is the poet Nicholas Ogarev. Easton, Ehle, Harbour and Plimpton are featured in multiple roles throughout the three-part work. Jason Butler Harner plays the novelist Ivan Turgenev ("Fathers and Sons"). Amy Irving plays two characters in different parts of the play, Varvara Bakunin (the mother of Hawke’s character) and Maria Ogarev (the estranged wife of Hamiton's character).

The additional players include Bianca Amato, Mia Barron, Larry Bull, Denis Butkus, Michael Carlsen, Amanda Leigh Cobb, Anthony Cochrane, Patricia Conolly (Waiting in the Wings, Enchanted April), David Cromwell (Julius Caesar), Adam Dannheisser, Matt Dickson, Aaron Krohn, Felicity LaFortune, Jennifer Lyon, David Manis, Andrew McGinn, Kellie Overbey (The Music Teacher, Betty's Summer Vacation), Scott Parkinson, David Pittu (Stuff Happens), Annie Purcell, Erika Rolfsrud, Brian Sgambati, Robert Stanton (The Right Kind of People, All in the Timing), Eric Sheffer Stevens, Baylen Thomas and David C. Wells (The Rivals, Big Doolie).

The three parts will open separately, one after another. They will begin to play in rep later in the schedule.

Individual preview and opening dates are as follows:

Part One – Voyage
Previews begin: Tuesday, October 17
Opening night: Sunday, November 5

Part Two – Shipwreck
Previews begin: Tuesday, Dec. 5
Opening night: Thursday, Dec. 21

Part Three – Salvage
Previews begin: Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2007
Opening Night: Thursday, Feb. 15, 2007

During the final three-and-one-half weeks of the production's run, audiences will have the opportunity to see all three parts in succession. Also, on three Saturdays—Feb. 24, March 3 and March 10—theatregoers will be able to see all three plays in one-day marathons beginning at 11 AM.

The play has sets by Bob Crowley and Scott Pask, costumes by Catherine Zuber, lighting by Natasha Katz, Brian MacDevitt and Kenneth Posner and original music and sound design by Mark Bennett.

The works first appeared under the direction of Trevor Nunn in 2002 at the National Theatre in England.

LCT has produced Stoppard's Hapgood and Arcadia.

Playwright Tom Stoppard (center) with (clockwise from bottom left) Billy Crudup, Jason Butler Harner, Josh Hamilton, Ethan Hawke and Brian F. O'Byrne.
Playwright Tom Stoppard (center) with (clockwise from bottom left) Billy Crudup, Jason Butler Harner, Josh Hamilton, Ethan Hawke and Brian F. O'Byrne. Photo by Paul Kolnik