Back in mid-summer, sources were saying Peter Parnell's adaptation of John Irving's The Cider House Rules was a likely candidate for Broadway. The play, currently receiving an epic staging at L.A.'s Mark Taper Forum, had won the 1998 American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award.
Now the news is that Cider House will grow in New York, but not on Broadway (or at least, not yet). Instead, the Atlantic Theatre Company, which nurtured The Beauty Queen of Leenane, will give Parnell's play its NY premiere. According to the Boneau/Bryan-Brown press office (Sept. 15), performances begin February 1999, but no casting information is yet available.
Conceived and directed by Tom Hulce (Amadeus) and Jane Jones, Cider House Rules runs at the Taper through Sept. 27. It's presented in two parts, which are played on separate evenings during the week or together on weekends in marathons. Atlantic Theatre marketing manager Jodi Sheeler told Playbill On-Line (Sept. 15) it was too early to tell how Hulce and Jones would present the show's two parts in New York. "I don't think they've worked all the logistics out yet."
The drama concerns young Homer Wells, his life in and outside an orphanage, and his father figure, Dr. Larch, who both saves babies and performs abortions.
Cider House was developed over several seasons at the Seattle Repertory and received positive notices. "Anyone who laments the death of storytelling in contemporary drama will cheer the arrival of Cider House Rules," said Variety's Lynn Jacobson. The L.A. cast features (in alphabetical order) Jillian Armenante, Tom Beyer, Janni Brenn, Jane Carr, Rebecca Chace, Danyon Davis, Josh Hamilton, Kevin Jackson, Edd Key, Casey Lluberes, Dougald Park, Liann Pattison, Myra Platt, Mike Regan, Mark E. Smith, Jayne Taini, Brenda Wehle, Shane West, Patrick Wilson and Michael Winters. The New York staging will keep some cast members and also make use of the Atlantic Theatre's company members, who have appeared in such productions there as The Lights and Edmond.
The timing of the Atlantic Theatre's announcement coincides with the news (reported in Variety) that next week Miramax will start lensing the film version of Cider House Rules, to be directed by Lasse Hallstrom and star Kate Nelligan & Paul Rudd. Other novels by Irving include "A Prayer For Owen Meany," "The Hotel New Hampshire," and "The World According To Garp."
Before Cider House, the Atlantic Theatre Company will stage Hilary Bell's drama, Wolf Lullaby, Oct.-Nov.
For tickets and information on The Cider House Rules at the Mark Taper Forum call (213) 628-2772. The deaf community should call TDD (213) 680 4017. For information on Off-Broadway's Atlantic Theatre Company call (212) 242-1242.