The centerpiece of the Public Theater's 2001 Summer Benefit will be a July 31 performance of Mike Nichol's star-studded production of The Seagull. The play features Kevin Kline and Meryl Streep among many other bold-faced names.
Nichols himself will serve as honorary chair of the event; Andi and Tom Bernstein, Kenneth Lerer and Katherine Sailer are co-chairs. The benefit will honor Gail Merrifield Papp, Public Theatre founder Joe Papp's widow, and the company's Director of Plays and Musicals Development from 1965 to 1991. Gail Papp was behind such works as The Normal Heart, The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Cuba and His Teddy Bear.
Tickets to the benefit run $500 to $25,000. For more information, call (212) 539-8738.
Like in many a past Nichols venture, the cast is packed with marquee names from the lead roles to the most minor supporting part. Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline will head the cast as Arkadina and Trigorin. Also in the cast are Natalie Portman as Nina, Christopher Walken as Sorin, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Konstantin, John Goodman as Shamrayev, Debra Monk as Polina, Stephen Spinella as Medvedyedo and Larry Pine as Dorn. Though Nichols has "supervised" various plays in recent years, his last theatre assignment as director was Death and the Maiden. Streep, meanwhile, has been missing from the theatre for even longer. During the 1970s, she appeared in New York City stagings of The Cherry Orchard, Happy End and Taming of the Shrew. She is the winner of two Oscars.
Kline has been slightly more faithful to the boards. Since taking the Tony for The Pirates of Penzance, he has appeared in Hamlet at the Public and, most recently, Ivanov at Lincoln Center Theatre.
The Seagull will begin previews July 24, open Aug. 12 and run through Aug. 19.