Still hoping to move to the Lambs in early April, The Countess will have its last performance at Theatre Row's Samuel Beckett on March 19.
The show is moving in the name of progress -- both in terms of real estate development and finding a larger theatre. The eviction came about because that part of Theatre Row is being razed and replaced by a larger theatre and a towering commercial/residential building. As for the show, the cast of The Countess is described as optimistic about the move to the Lambs.
However, while a letter of agreement has been signed between Countess director Ludovica Villar-Hauser and the Lambs (reported March 3), a formal contract is still pending. A show spokesperson said an early April start at the Lambs remains likely.
As earlier reported, The Countess has logged well over 300 performances at the 74-seat Samuel Beckett Theatre on West 42nd Street, making it the longest running new drama either on or Off-Broadway this season.
Reports indicate that the 42nd Street Development Corporation will be moving ahead with plans raze the block, which means gutting the Samuel Beckett and replacing several other Theatre Row venues with a residential complex that features retail and theatre space below. Though small venues will be lost, strict zoning regulations mandate that any demolished theatre in the area must be replaced, even if that means with an equivalent amount of theatre seats. The Shuberts have been named as joint sponsors in the new development and a larger theatre is expected to be built as part of the new development.
With this move, The Countess gets a new lease on life, but there is something of a cloud over the Lambs as well, because the Church of the Nazarene has reportedly sold the (Lambs) building to a developer.
In any case, members of The Countess production agree that the move to the Lambs is "certainly a positive development for the show."
The Victorian era scandal, written by Gregory Murphy and directed by Ludovica Villar Hauser, traces the true-life love triangle and sensational Victorian scandal that ensued some 146 years ago when London society learned that England's art critic and trend setter, John Ruskin, was being sued for divorce by his charming and popular wife, Effie, on the grounds that their union had never been consummated. Ruskin's wife was instantly vilified, and it was later revealed that there was another man, John Everett Millais, a founder of the Pre-Raphaelite movement.
Through March 19, the regular ticket price of $45 applies to The Countess. The Samuel Beckett Theatre is located at 410 West 42nd Street. Call Ticketmaster at (212) 307-4100 for credit cards, or the box office at (212) 594-2826.
-- By Murdoch McBride