David Hare's adaptation of Anton Chekhov's first full-length play, Ivanov, has its American premiere, tonight, Nov. 20. Previews began Oct. 23 for the Lincoln Center Theater production at the Vivian Beaumont theatre, starring stage and film actor Kevin Kline .
This new adaptation was produced in London last season by London's Almeida Theatre Company starring Ralph Fiennes; the New York incarnation, running to Jan. 3, 1998, is a totally new production directed by Gerald Gutierrez.
Also starring in Ivanov are Jayne Atkinson (How I Learned to Drive), Tom McGowan (the "bete" of La Bete, The Food Chain) Hope Davis (The Food Chain), Marian Seldes (Three Tall Women), Max Wright (1995's Denial at CT's Long Wharf Theatre; the father on TV's "Alf"), Jeff Weiss (1995's The Play's The Thing at Roundabout Theatre), Rob Campbell (the recent Broadway Translations), Lynn Cohen (NYTW's The Devils), Judith Hawking (Durang, Durang), Joan Buddenhagen, Jane Cronin, Robert Foxworth, John Michael Gilbert, Lawrence Nathanson, John Newton, William Preston, Thomas Schall, Evan Thompson, Susan Wilder and Stuart Zamsky.
Kevin Kline, of Pirates Of Penzance and On the 20th Century stage renown is also getting much attention for the lead role in Paul Rudnick/Frank Oz's new film, In And Out, and also Ang Lee's The Ice Storm.
Ivanov's director, Gerald Gutierrez, won a Tony for directing The Heiress (which also netted a best actress Tony for Jones). His Broadway revival of Once Upon A Mattress closed May 31. Ivanov has sets by John Lee Beatty, costumes by Catherine Zuber, lighting by James Ingalls, sound by Aural Fixation, and original music by Robert Waldman.
The show, a dark comedy, follows a Russian landowner (Kline) whose life turns chaotic when he falls out of love with his wife (Atkinson) and becomes infatuated with his rich neighbor (Davis).
Lincoln Center's new publication, "The New Theatre Review," excerpts Chekhov's diary during the writing of the piece:
"I spent a fortnight on it, or, rather, ten days, for there were days in the fortnight when I did not work or wrote something else. Of the merits of the play I cannot judge. It turned out suspiciously short... The subject is compllicated and not frivolous... I make all the action go peacefully and quietly, and at the end I give the spectator a slap in the face. The whole of my energy went into a few really strong and bright passages; but the bridges which connect those passages are insignificant and ready-made. Still, I am pleased."
The publication also quotes actor Kline on Chekhov's genius: "He embraces the paradox of the human condition and of human nature. People are villains capable of the lowest actions, of committing the meanest kind of depravity -- and there is simple nobility in a gesture, in a word that is spoken or muttered at the dinner table. There's not hopelessness. Redemption and salvation are possible... Chekhov is ruthlessly honest while also being affectionate and even forgiving of his characters."
Tickets for Ivanov, priced $55 and $40, can be purchased by calling Tele-Charge at (212) 239-6200. Tickets can also be purchased online.
Lincoln Center Theatre, run by artistic director Andre Bishop and executive producer Bernard Gersten, is concurrently producing Tina Howe's Pride's Crossing at the Mitzi Newhouse space.