The Public Theater is indeed exploring the possibility of a Broadway future for the current Central Park staging of The Seagull, starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline, but so many questions have yet to be answered that reports of the show's pricey-ticket commercial run are, as of Aug. 14, still premature.
The New York Post reported Aug. 14 that the show would play eight weeks at the Lyceum Theatre beginning in November at a top price of $100, but Public spokesperson Carol Fineman told Playbill On-Line that such a scenario is premature since cast availability has not been determined, and director Mike Nichols has not yet decided on a suitable venue. She did say the Lyceum is one of the theatres the Public is looking at for a possible limited Broadway engagement.
Producing partnership scenarios are still being explored, as well. It is not clear if The Public will brave the Broadway territory as sole producer or partner with commercial producers.
Fineman said the Broadway transfer is not a done deal. Some of the players, including Streep and Kevin Kline, have expressed interest, but schedules need to be figured out. "There's definitely interest," Fineman said, adding that artists are "checking availability."
Playbill On-Line reported Aug. 9 that The Public was exploring a fall Broadway run and that some of the cast, such as Debra Monk, who is booked for Broadway's Thou Shalt Not in fall, would not be free to wing along with The Seagull. Natalie Portman, who plays Nina, is presumably returning to college in the fall, and Marcia Gay Harden, who plays Masha, is committed to a TV series, "The Education of Max Bickford."
Free performances continue at Central Park's Delacorte Theatre through Aug. 26. The starry summer run has prompted people to sleep overnight in the park or downtown at The Public in the hope of getting free tickets when they are distributed every afternoon.
Fineman reconfirmed that The Public is also exploring a possible fall run of Suzan-Lori Parks' Top Dog/Underdog for the Booth Theatre on Broadway. Public producer George C. Wolfe's Off-Broadway staging starring Don Cheadle and Jeffrey Wright continues to Sept. 2 at The Public downtown.
The company of The Seagull includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, John Goodman, Larry Pine, Stephen Spinella, Henry Gummer, Morena Baccarin, Vitali Baganov, Craig Bockhorn and Mark H. Dold. Reviews that appeared following the opening Aug. 12 were mixed, with critics praising Streep but questioning the ensemble and the varying acting styles. The play marks Academy Award winner Streep's return to the stage after a 20-year absence.
Few question that a Broadway move of the production would sell like blinis, but industry observers now wonder if the mixed reviews (Donald Lyons' notice in The Post was a rave, Howard Kissel of The Daily News called it a "turkey") might bruise egos and scuttle the transfer hope. Others say getting the high-profile cast to agree a schedule, considering other bookings or commitments, would be miraculous.
The translation used by Nichols and company is by Tom Stoppard.The Seagull (1896) is Chekhov's rueful domestic comedy about the life and loves of an extended theatrical family, led by Arkadina, a famous and respected actress. Her experimental-playwright son, Konstantin Treplev (Hoffman), loves the young actress Nina (Portman), who runs off with Arkadina's lover, Trigorin (Kline).
Designers are Bob Crowley (scenic and costume design), Jennifer Tipton (lighting) and Acme Sound Partners (sound), with Mark Bennett penning original music. Performances began July 24.