The national tour of David Auburn's Broadway hit, Proof, the winner of the 2001 Tony Award for Best Play and the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, will begin following the resident premiere at the Seattle Repertory Theatre in October and November.
The Seattle physical production and cast will tour after the nonprofit Seattle run, the tentative dates of which are Oct. 8-Nov. 10, according to the Seattle Rep box office.
Daniel Sullivan, who took home the Tony for his direction, will mount the show again. The first stop after Seattle is the Curran Theatre in San Francisco, Nov. 27-Dec. 23, a spokesperson for the tour told Playbill On-Line. So far, bookings are planned through June 2002.
The original designers — including scenic designer John Lee Beatty, who fashioned a set representing a peeling back porch of a home in the University of Chicago neighborhood — are expected to recreate their work for the road, but the full creative team has not been officially announced.
The play has been hailed as a crafty, amiable four-character romantic mystery about a math genius, his troubled daughter and the discovery of a groundbreaking math proof found in their home. The entire original Broadway cast — Johanna Day, Larry Bryggman, Ben Shenkman and Mary-Louise Parker — was nominated for Tonys, and Parker took home the Best Actress (Play) Tony June 3. Parker continues on Broadway through Labor Day. Proof is the sort of play that touring houses and nonprofit theatres jump onto — an award-winning work that is intimate and affordable to mount (one-set, four actors), with a potential for star casting.
The drama now at the Walter Kerr Theatre is one of the major hits of the 2000-2001 Broadway season. Director Daniel Sullivan's staging starring Mary-Louise Parker has made its investment back and saw a jump at the box office after the June 3 Tony wins.
The work concerns the anguished daughter of a University of Chicago math genius and the discovery of rare math proof among his papers in the home they share.
One of the major ideas in the play is the notion of "legacy" — how the gifts and the burdens of genius are passed on.
Did Juilliard playwriting grad Auburn think in terms of "theme" when writing Proof?
"I really just thought in terms of plot the first time through, trying to get the story to make sense and be clear," the Old Auburn said, adding that thematic ideas get richer when you go through it again, and when actors are added to the mix.
Auburn said people are embracing the play because "everyone has parents" and "everyone aspires to be like them in some ways, and have concerns about other traits they may [inherit]."
The "fear and hope" audiences have about their parents and the legacy they pass on fuels the play, Auburn agreed. The math professor, Robert, originally played by Larry Bryggman, is slowly deteriorating in the play, and Mary-Louise Parker's character, the daughter, Catherine, has fears about how he is crumbling. Will she crumble, too?
The now-famous Act One curtain line of the play, at which audiences consistently gasp, was there from the first draft, Auburn said. He knew the discovery of the proof would be the event that ended the first act. And that line? At the time, Auburn said, "This is shameless, but I can fix it later." It stayed.
Does he mind that the play comes off as a ripping good mystery?
"I really wanted to write something that would be involving on a narrative level," he said. "That people want to know what happens next is great. The pace of it and the energy is [the work of] the cast and Dan Sullivan. The script didn't really change [in rehearsal]. The decision to have a very concrete detailed [setting], is Dan and [designer] John Lee Beatty. In the script it just says 'a porch.'"
The play opened at the Kerr Oct. 24, 2000, after a summer 2000 run at Manhattan Theatre Club, where audiences and critics embraced the new American play. Between Off-Broadway and Broadway, Auburn won the Joseph Kesselring playwriting prize.
The original Off-Broadway and Broadway cast included Johanna Day, Ben Shenkman, Larry Bryggman and Mary Louise Parker. Patrick Tovatt takes over for Bryggman begining June 12.
For Broadway Proof tickets, call (212) 239-6200, or visit www.ProofonBroadway.com.