The Manhattan Theatre Club production began previews, under the direction of Doug Hughes, Sept. 13. This marks the Broadway debut of Rebeck, whose Bad Dates is a regional theatre sensation, and whose Omnium Gatherum, The Scene and The Water's Edge have been seen Off-Broadway. Omnium, co-written with Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist.
Philately — postage stamp collecting — is not a subject often addressed on stage, but it's front and center at the Biltmore in a John Lee Beatty-designed production that is mostly set in a shadowy stamp dealer's office in some unnamed city.
With stamp album in hand, Jackie (played by Tony Award nominee Alison Pill) stands at the doorway, seeking to get a stamp collection appraised. Her mother has died, and the stamps are now in her possession. Jackie and her half-sister Mary (played by Tony Award winner Katie Finneran) spar over who really owns those stamps, two of which may be more valuable than anyone imagined.
In this post-David Mamet atmosphere, the spotlight shines on craven characters whose motivations are not always clear. Commerce, negotiation, property, loss, legacy and grief are ideas that swirl in the air like the dust in that airless stamp office. Preview audiences have embraced the play as part mystery, part family drama, part crime yarn (is that a gun under Abraham's tailored suit jacket?), part dark comedy and part budding love story. MTC bills the play as a "sinister comedy." The title refers to rare stamps from the island of Mauritius.
Tickets are on sale through Nov. 25.
Pill (The Lieutenant of Inishmore) appeared in Blackbird for MTC Off-Broadway; Finneran earned laughs in Broadway's Noises Off revival (for which she won a Tony Award), and was seen in Pig Farm at the Roundabout Off-Broadway; Abraham won the Academy Award for playing Salieri in "Amadeus" and recently starred in The Jew of Malta Off-Broadway; Cannavale appeared in Hurlyburly Off-Broadway and on TV's "Will & Grace" (for which he won an Emmy); Baker was last seen on Broadway in La Bete, which earned him Tony and Drama Desk nominations.
Mauritius is a co-production with the Huntington Theatre Company, which recently received the Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Production for the world-premiere production of the play. The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust supports new American plays at Manhattan Theatre Club.
Tickets to Mauritius are available by calling Telecharge.com at (212) 239-6200, (800) 432-7250 outside the New York metro area, online at Telecharge.com, and at the Biltmore Theatre box office, 261 W. 47th Street, between Broadway and Eighth Avenue. Tickets range in price from $46.50-91.50. Student ticketing is available. For information visit www.ManhattanTheatreClub.com.