PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Sept. 8-14: Bigger Is Better

ICYMI   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Sept. 8-14: Bigger Is Better
 
How can you tell Aaron Sorkin has been away from Broadway for nearly two decades? His new play The Farnsworth Invention has 22 characters!
Aaron Sorkin
Aaron Sorkin Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Apparently, Sorkin, busy with his well-populated television series out in Hollywood, has not noticed how, over the past 20 years, the cast-list for the average Broadway play (or average Off-Broadway play for that matter) has shrunk and shrunk until a so-called "big-cast play" features only eight characters. More common is five — like Theresa Rebeck's Mauritius, which began previews at the Biltmore Theatre this week, or three or — the best financial scenario — one!

Of course, Sorkin has always worked big; his A Few Good Men has a cast of 20. Plus, he's a big enough wheel that he could probably find a producer for whatever size play he chose to create. Still, 22 characters! It's like a Maxwell Anderson play, for Pete's sake! It makes the 11-person gathering found in Tracy Letts' August: Osage County — another play that has been called "big" — look downright anemic.

Among the additional cast members announced for Farnsworth this week (get ready to share some Music Box dressing room space, guys!), are Michael Mulheren, William Youmans and Steve Rosen. They join the previously announced Hank Azaria and Jimmi Simpson.

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The Roundabout Theatre Company will present the first Broadway revival of Christopher Hampton's Les Liaisons Dangereuses in spring 2008, it was announced. Rufus Norris — who directed Festen, which was loved in London, but not so adored on Broadway — will helm the revival, which will play the American Airlines Theatre. No casting has been announced yet for Vicomte de Valmont and Marquise de Merteuil, but I can hear New York City's actors and actresses licking their chops and calling their agents already. ***

Two New England theatres are beginning their seasons in an interesting way. At the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Craig Lucas' war drama A Prayer for My Enemy began Sept. 12. Bartlett Sher, who directed the Lucas-scripted The Light in the Piazza directs the world premiere co-production (with Seattle's Intiman Theatre — where the show recently played).

Set during the Iraq war, the new drama follows "the connection between two childhood friends who are unexpectedly reunited on the eve of one's first tour of duty in Baghdad."

Meanwhile, at Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island, performances have begun for a new staging of the famous Robert Penn Warren novel turned famous Robert Rossen film, All the King's Men. Directed by Brian McEleney, it features music by Randy Newman, and Joe Wilson, Jr. as the corrupt southern demagogue Willie Stark.

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The 39 Steps, the London hit which is headed to Broadway, is making the unusual move of playing a U.S. run prior to New York. The Huntington Theatre Company run in Boston begins Sept. 14. London star Charles Edwards heads the cast for the Hitchcockian thriller, and Maria Aitken, director of the original London production, is back as well. Performances play to Oct. 14. Aitken directs the New York run starting Dec. 28.

The West End production of <i>The 39 Steps</i>.
The West End production of The 39 Steps.
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