OB's Promenade Goes Out of Shape, Jan. 20

News   OB's Promenade Goes Out of Shape, Jan. 20 A hot playwright and a sexy cast warmed up the New York autumn but will now be chilled out in mid-winter, as Neil LaBute's The Shape of Things has announced it will close Jan. 20 at Off-Broadway's Promenade Theatre, according to a Tele-Charge spokesperson.

A hot playwright and a sexy cast warmed up the New York autumn but will now be chilled out in mid-winter, as Neil LaBute's The Shape of Things has announced it will close Jan. 20 at Off-Broadway's Promenade Theatre, according to a Tele-Charge spokesperson.

Mordant filmmaker and dramatist LaBute look at what constitutes identity — and what we give up when we change ourselves — began previews Sept. 20 and opened Oct. 10. The darkly humorous Shape concerns an art student who befriends and then transforms a museum guard. The play is said to peel back the skin of two modern relationships and asks the questions: How far would you go for love? How far for art? What would you be willing to change? Which price might you pay?

The London cast of The Shape of Things, including Paul Rudd as the guard, Rachel Weisz as the art student, and Gretchen Mol and Frederick Weller as Rudd's friends, repeat their performances in the New York debut of the drama, which is directed by the author. (LaBute also writes and directs his own films, which include "In the Company of Men" and "Your Friends and Neighbors."

The Shape of Things opened at London's Almeida Theatre May 30 (previews from May 24) and ran to June 23 with the foursome. Performances resumed for two weeks in the summer, to Aug. 4.

The producing team for the U.S. run is Susan Quint Gallin, Sandy Gallin, Ben Sprecher, Stuart Thompson and USA/Ostar Theatricals. Reviews for the play were mostly positive, though some critics griped about the between-scenes blasts of Smashing Pumpkins rock songs, which the author specifically asked to be included, both because they commented on the action and because they'd be loud enough to keep audience members from discussing and dissecting the intermissionless play while it was happening.

Rudd appeared in the hit Off-Broadway's production of LaBute's trio of one-acts, bash, a couple seasons ago. His other New York stage appearances include Twelfth Night at Lincoln Center Theater and The Last Night of Ballyhoo on Broadway. On film, he has been seen in "The Object of My Affection," "Romeo and Juliet" and "Clueless."

Mol's film work includes "Forever Mine," Woody Allen's "Celebrity" and "Sweet and Lowdown," and "Rounders," though she is perhaps most notorious for gracing a 1998 cover of Vanity Fair well before anyone knew who she was (and then continuing on in relatively obscure).

Weisz previously appeared in Noel Coward's Design for Living at the Donmar Warehouse and, in 1999, starred in Tennessee Williams' Suddenly Last Summer at the Comedy. Weisz is best known for her film roles, including the just released "Enemy at the Gates," "The Mummy," and "Stealing Beauty." This marks her U.S. stage debut.

Weller appeared on Broadway in The Little Foxes, Six Degrees of Separation and The Rehearsal, and in Drama Dept.'s The Country Club, the New Group's Curtains, and South Coast Rep's Hurrah at Last.

*

Last year, The Almeida presented the British premiere of LaBute's bash. bash was a hit Off-Broadway, in a limited engagement staging that featured Calista Flockhart, Ron Eldard and Paul Rudd. It was later taped for TV broadcast. LaBute's previous plays include Filthy Talk for Troubled Times, Sanguinarians and Sycophants, Rounder and Ravages.

— By Robert Simonson
and David Lefkowitz