Neeson and Linney Burn in Miller's Crucible, Opening March 7

News   Neeson and Linney Burn in Miller's Crucible, Opening March 7 Liam Neeson and Laura Linney star as fiery farmer John Proctor and his prudish wife Elizabeth in Richard Eyre's revival of Arthur Miller's The Crucible, opening March 7 at the Virginia Theatre. Previews began Feb. 16.
Liam Neeson and Laura Linney in The Crucible.
Liam Neeson and Laura Linney in The Crucible. (Photo by Photo by Joan Marcus)

Liam Neeson and Laura Linney star as fiery farmer John Proctor and his prudish wife Elizabeth in Richard Eyre's revival of Arthur Miller's The Crucible, opening March 7 at the Virginia Theatre. Previews began Feb. 16.

The Crucible, written in reaction to the McCarthy witch hunts of the 1950s and based in part on historical fact, tells of leaders in puritannical Salem overreacting to a rash of phony witchcraft in its young women. Miller is also the author of Death of a Salesman, A View From the Bridge, The Ride Down Mt. Morgan, The Price and the Broadway-bound The Man Who Had All The Luck.

Broadway veterans in the supporting cast include Brian Murray (currently in Hobson's Choice) as the imperious Deputy Governor Danforth, Tom Aldredge (1776) as stubborn farmer Giles Corey, John Benjamin Hickey (Love! Valour! Compassion!) as the questioning Reverend John Hale, and Christopher Evan Welch (London Assurance, the recent Off-Bway Othello) as vain and vindictive Reverend Parris.

Also in the cast are J.R. Horne, Paul O'Brien, Jeanne Paulsen, Jennifer Carpenter as Mary Warren, Henry Stram (Unwrap Your Candy, Titanic), Patrice Johnson as Tituba, Jack Willis, Frank Raiter, Dale Soules (The Magic Show), Helen Stenborg (Waiting in the Wings) as Rebecca Nurse, Kristen Bell, Laura Breckenridge, Betsy Hogg, Sevrin Anne Mason and Stephen Lee Anderson. Angela Bettis (The Father, opposite Frank Langella) plays scheming Abigail.

Neeson last appeared on the New York stage as Oscar Wilde in The Judas Kiss. Primarily a film actor, he starred in "Star Wars: Episode I" and "Episode II," "Michael Collins," "Les Miserables," "Rob Roy" and "Schindler's List," for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. Actress Linney has been a common fixture on the New York stage since first attracting attention as Nina in a modernized downtown Seagull and playing an aggressive German journalist in Donald Margulies' Sight Unseen. But her currency as an actress increased manyfold last year due to her many-faceted, Oscar-nominated performance as a single mom dealing with a wastrel brother in Kenneth Lonergan's film "You Can Count on Me." Linney's most recent stage turn was as Yelena in the Roundabout Theatre Company's Uncle Vanya on Broadway. She has also appeared on Broadway in Holiday and The Seagull (as Nina).

Over the past several years, Murray has done three-to-four productions a season, including stints in Uncle Vanya, Entertaining Mr. Sloan, Racing Demon, Travels With My Aunt (Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards), A Small Family Business, the original Noises Off (Drama Desk Award), Black Comedy, Da, Sleuth, All in Good Time, and Peter Brook's Royal Shakespeare Company production of King Lear. He's currently in the Atlantic Theatre Company's Hobson's Choice, following an acclaimed stint in The Play About the Baby.

Director Eyre, former head of the UK's Royal National Theatre, recently wrote a book and created a TV miniseries about 20th century Western theatre. His previous Broadway outings include Amy's View and Skylight.

Designing The Crucible are Paul Gallo (lighting), Tim Hatley (sets and costumes) and Scott Myers (sound), with David Van Tieghem providing original music.

The production, which runs through June 8, boasts a lineup of producers longer than the second act: David Richental, Manocherian/Level/Boyett, Max Cooper, Allan S. Gordon, Roy Furman, U.S. Productions, Elan V. McAllister, Adam Epstein and Margo Lion, in association with Dede Harris/Mort Swinsky, Clear Channel Entertainment, Old Ivy Productions, Jeffrey Ash, Berinstein/Selig, Golden/Skipper, Gene Korf and Robert Cole, all by special arrangement with The Roundabout Theatre Company. Eric Falkenstein and Toby Simkin are the associate producers.

For tickets and information on The Crucible at the Virginia Theater, 245 West 52nd St., call (212) 239-6200. The Crubile is on-line at http://www.thecrucibleonbroadway.com.

*

Director Richard Eyre joked about it at the invited dress rehearsal, introducing the bands Anthrax and Judas Priest as the bonus guests for the Liam Neeson revival of Arthur Miller's The Crucible. But the noise from next door neighbor Roseland's rock concerts is no longer a laughing matter.

The quiet, intense Miller drama is now being protected from such bands as Bad Religion, No Doubt and former Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan by sound-proofing sheet rock and various thick curtains.