The Irish family drama The Beauty Queen of Leenane will end its long reign at Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre March 14. The Martin McDonagh drama will have played 10 previews and 372 performances.
Next into the Kerr is another Irish-themed play from overseas, Conor McPherson's The Weir. The first preview will be March 23 with the opening set for April 1.
Beauty Queen began its American journey Off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theatre Company, where it was a sold-out hit in early 1998. It then transferred to Broadway on April 23, 1998, keeping intact its Irish cast of Anna Manahan, Brian F. O'Byrne, Marie Mullen and Tom Murphy. Murphy, Mullen and Manahan went on to win Tonys for their portrayals, though the show lost the Best Play prize to Art.
A special agreement worked out between the producers and Actors Equity Association initially allowed Leenane to keep its Irish cast for 26 weeks. An American cast would have had to replace the performers in mid-October, 1998. But the producers and the union worked out an extension through New Years. Later on, it was determined that Manahan could stay a further three months.
Kate Burton joined the cast Jan. 5, taking over from Mullen the title role of a bitter, middle-aged Irish woman whose last shot at love is bedeviled by her meddlesome mother. Replacing Murphy and O'Byrne were, respectively, Chris Carley and Stevie Ray Dallimore. Beauty Queen returned its investment of $1.2 million, paying back investors just seven weeks after the Broadway opening.
McDonagh's other plays include The Cripple of Inishmaan, which played at the Public Theatre last season, and The Lonesome West, starting Broadway previews April 19.