Barrymore, a drama about legendary stage actor John Barrymore starring Christopher Plummer, has opened to positive reviews at the Avon Theatre in Stratford, Ontario.
The production will run through Oct. 20 in Toronto before embarking on a four-month tour that will bring it to Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Chicago, Baltimore and Boston before opening on Broadway in March, 1997.
Barrymore, by William Luce, is a joint production of Stratford Festival Theatre and Livent. Broadway previews begin Feb. 23, 1997, and the show opens March 9, 1997 at a theatre to be announced.
In the Luce play, Plummer has the starring role as John Barrymore, a once-great classical actor, who struggles to recreate one of the truimphant performances of his past. Though ravaged by time, and alcohol, he has lost neither his zest for life nor his passion for his art. Luce is the author of another fact-based tour-de-force, The Belle of Amherst, about Emily Dickinson.
Directed by Gene Saks, Plummer received a standing ovation on opening night. After the run at the Avon Theatre in Stratford (see theatre listings), sources close to Garth Drabinsky from Livent said, they expect the show to go to Fort Lauderdale FL. and then back to Toronto.
Richard Monette, Artistic Director of the Stratford Festival confirmed with Playbill On-Line at the reception after the opening that this is the first of many co-operative ventures with Livent.
Marty Bell, Vice President of Livent, standing in for an absent Drabinsky, who is very involved in another imminent Livent world premiere, Ragtime, said he was very pleased with the response to Barrymore.
Barrymore will be the second of three views of troubled actor John Barrymore that Broadway will have seen in a single year's time.
Nicol Williamson played the same character in Jack: A Night on the Town With John Barrymore, which had a brief run in spring 1996 at the Belasco Theatre. Tommy Tune and William Finn are preparing a new musical The Royal Family of Broadway based on Edna Ferber's The Royal Family which is based on the famous Barrymore acting clan. That clan persists today: actress Drew Barrymore is John's great-grandniece.