PBOL'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Feb. 14-20: Good Times, Bad Times

ICYMI   PBOL'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Feb. 14-20: Good Times, Bad Times
 
During the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 seasons, Manhattan Theatre Club could do no wrong. Every other show was roundly praised as a piece of fine writing buffeted by a production par excellence, and three of them—Proof, The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, A Class Act—went to Broadway, two eventually becoming solid hits. It was during this period that MTC announced its plans to turn the then-decrepit Biltmore Theatre into its permanent Broadway home. At the time, the nonprofit certainly seemed to need one.

A few seasons later, the Biltmore is open and running, and Manhattan Theatre Club can't seem to do anything right. Cast defections and/or dismissals have bedeviled The Violet Hour, Rose's Dilemma and Sight Unseen. And this week the company took another hit as Drowning Crow, Regina Taylor's modern, African-American take on The Seagull, opened to the sound drubbing from the critics, preceded by a widely reported, nightly first-intermission exodus. (Cheer up, Regina: the reaction was similar when the Chekhov original premiered in 1896.) The remainder the troupe's season rests on two new plays by relatively unknown playwrights, Joe Hortua's Between Us and Daniel Goldfarb's Sarah, Sarah (both at MTC's Off-Broadway spaces), as well as whoever is found to replace the fairly irreplaceable Liev Schrieber in Sight Unseen. Every season, there are certain actors who become very good at keeping busy. Whether it's because their pilot didn't get picked up and they've got lots of spare time, or because they're just humming along on a nice theatre buzz, they go from show to show like apprentice Brian Murrays. Among 2003-04's credit-collectors are: John Lithgow, who'd not even ended his run in Broadway's The Retreat from Moscow when he signed for Off-Broadway's Mrs. Farnsworth; David Aaron Baker, who ran from Neil Simon's Rose's Dilemma to audition for Broadway's Raisin in the Sun; Daphne Rubin-Vega, who found a new job in MTC's Between Us before the end date of her current gig, Anna in the Tropics; Randy Graff, a wife and mother Off-Broadway in fall's The Long Christmas Ride Home and a wife and mother on Broadway in winter's Fiddler on the Roof; Michael Cerveris, currently a lover in Second Stage's Wintertime, imminently a killer in Broadway's Assassins; David Harbour, who played A Bad Friend last summer, was one of Two Noble Kinsmen last fall, and is part of Between Us this spring; and Nancy Opel, who spent 2003 going from Urinetown to Barbra's Wedding to For the Love of Tiffany, and has this week replaced Barbara Barrie in Fiddler on the Roof.

Brian Dennehy continues his stage romance with the work of Eugene O'Neill in Rhode Island, where Trinity Repertory Company's Dennehy double-bill — Eugene O'Neill's Hughie and Sean O'Casey's A Pound on Demand—has become a hit, extending to April 4. Dennehy received his 2003 Tony Award for his work in another O'Neill play, Long Day's Journey Into Night. His other O'Neill credits include The Iceman Cometh and A Touch of the Poet.

Finally, somebody upstairs wants a Broadway revival of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross. A production, to be directed by forever busy Dan Sullivan, was announced in 2002, but collapsed when stars Danny DeVito and Ben Stiller suddenly remembered they had families who desperately needed them and skedaddled back to the west coast. However, the title resurfaced this week, with new producers—Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel—and a new director, the forever busy Joe Mantello, who will begin attending to his new job after he sees to Assassins, the inevitable tour of Wicked and whatever other projects he undoubtedly has on his agenda. Who does he think he is? Dan Sullivan?

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