McNally Sex Farce The Ritz, Starring Perez and Chamberlin, Begins on Broadway

News   McNally Sex Farce The Ritz, Starring Perez and Chamberlin, Begins on Broadway Rosie Perez and Kevin Chamberlin star in the Roundabout Theatre Company's new Broadway staging of Terrence McNally's bathhouse-set farce, The Ritz, which begins previews Sept. 15.
Rosie Perez stars in Roundabout's revival of The Ritz.
Rosie Perez stars in Roundabout's revival of The Ritz. Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Joe Mantello directs the revival of the comedy slated to officially open Oct. 11 at Studio 54 for a limited engagement through Dec. 2.

The production was originally to begin previews Sept. 14, but delayed one day due to a cast replacement. Ashlie Atkinson (Fat Pig) now plays the role of Vivian Proclo, replacing previously announced actress Caroline Aaron.

Billed as "an over-the-top comedy that takes place in a bathhouse in Manhattan," the farcical The Ritz concerns a man (Chamberlin) — hiding out from a mobster in the titular Turkish bath — who realizes he is actually in a gay bathhouse. He then takes on the guise of a big Broadway producer to avoid being discovered.

Brooks Ashmanskas (Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, The Producers) is also featured in a cast that includes Atkinson, Patrick Kerr, Lucas Near-Verbrugghe, Terrence Riordan, Seth Rudetsky, Adam Sietz, David Turner, Lenny Venito, Ryan Idol, Teddy Coluca, Billy Magnussen, Mark Leydorf, Matthew Montelongo, Angela Pietropinto, Jeffrey Evan Thomas, Josh Breckenridge, Justin Clynes, Andrew Cooksey, Lukas Hassel, Nick Mayo and Dillon Porter.

"It's a farce, a sex farce," explained McNally to Playbill at a recent press event. "It's my tribute to being in the wrong place at the wrong time: slamming doors, hiding in closets, diving under beds. And when it works well, it makes an audience very happy. Sometimes it's fun to go to the theatre and just laugh your head off, which is one of the points of this play. I'm delighted to get another opportunity to see it." Perez plays entertainer Googie Gomez to Chamberlin's faux impresario Gaetano Proclo.

Actress Perez has taken time between her screen career to add some stage work to her resume, playing in Broadway's recent revivals of Reckless and Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune and Off-Broadway's References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot. Her film credits include "Fearless," "Human Nature," "Do the Right Thing," "Untamed Heart" and HBO's "Lackawanna Blues." She made her directorial debut with the 2006 documentary "Yo Soy Boricua Pa'que Tu Lo Sepas!"

Chamberlin returns to the Broadway stage after a recent turn in the City Center Encores! revue Stairway to Paradise. He received Tony nominations for his work in Dirty Blonde and Seussical and has also appeared in Chicago, My Favorite Year, Abe Lincoln in Illinois and Triumph of Love. The actor has also been seen in the films "Lucky Number Slevin," "Road to Perdition," "DieHard With a Vengeance," "In and Out" and "Christmas with the Kranks."

Director Mantello reteams with Roundabout, following his Tony Award-winning direction of Assassins and the company's revival of Noël Coward's Design for Living. Other credits include Three Days of Rain, The Odd Couple, Glengarry Glen Ross, Laugh Whore, Wicked, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, A Man of No Importance and his other Tony Award win, Take Me Out.

Playwright McNally was recently represented on Broadway by Deuce. His work includes plays (Master Class, Love! Valour! Compassion!) as well as librettos (Ragtime, Kiss of the Spider Woman). He won Tony Awards for all four aforementioned works. Other credits include Some Men, Dedication or The Stuff of Dreams, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair De Lune, The Full Monty, The Visit, Corpus Christi, The Lisbon Traviata, Andre's Mother and Lips Together, Teeth Apart.

Christopher Gattelli choreographs with Rudetsky handling musical direction. The design team includes Scott Pask (sets), William Ivey Long (costumes), Peggy Eisenhauer and Jules Fisher (lights) and Tony Meola (sound).

The Ritz first played Broadway in 1975 in a production directed by Robert Drivas. F. Murray Abraham, Jack Weston, Jerry Stiller and Rita Moreno starred — the latter winning a Tony Award for her turn as Googie Gomez. The comedy was adapted for the 1976 film with the same stars.

Tickets to The Ritz at Studio 54, 254 West 54th Street, are available by calling Roundabout Ticket Services at (212) 719-1300 or online at roundabouttheatre.org.

<i>The Ritz</i> author Terrence McNally with Rosie Perez and Kevin Chamberlin.
The Ritz author Terrence McNally with Rosie Perez and Kevin Chamberlin. Photo by Aubrey Reuben