Richard Seff and Anita Keal step into the roles of art critic John Ruskin's parents in Gregory Murphy's Off-Broadway sleeper, The Countess, beginning July 27. The fact-inspired drama about Ruskin, his wife, Effie, and the young artist who comes between them during a 19th-century holiday in Scotland, earned solid reviews in its eight-week run at The Greenwich Street Theatre in March and April, and moved to the 74-seat Samuel Beckett Theatre June 8.
The open-ended run is expected to last at least through August. Producer director Ludovica Villar-Hauser is looking for a larger house for the period play, according to a spokesman.
Seff, a playwright and actor, wrote Paris is Out for Broadway, and the libretto to Shine, a Horatio Alger musical. He has appeared on Broadway in End of the World, Off-Broadway in Modigliani, and in regional theatre.
Seff and Keal (in through Aug. 8) temporarily replace Frederick Neumann and Honora Fergusson, who had other commitments. They return Aug. 10.
Producer-director Villar-Hauser, artistic director of The Greenwich Street Theatre, helms a cast that includes Jennifer Woodward (Effie), James Riordan (Ruskin), Jy Murphy (the pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais), all reprising their work from the Greenwich Street staging, plus Kristin Griffith and John Quilty.
Designers are Mark Symczak (set), Chris Lione (costume), Carrie Hash (lighting), Randy Morrison (sound). Original music is by Dewey Dellay.
The Countess was originally produced by Greenwich Street in 1995 and had several staged readings in London.
Tickets are $35-$45. The Beckett is at 410 W. 42nd St. For information, call the box office at (212) 594-2826.
-- By Kenneth Jones