Nilo Cruz, who collected the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play, Anna in the Tropics, collected his first official Broadway credit on Nov. 16, 2003, when the poetical drama officially opened at the Royale Theatre. Anna in the Tropics premiered in Florida and visited Chicago and New Jersey (in separate stagings) before setting a foot on a Broadway stage.
The Broadway production came direct from Princeton's McCarter Theatre with the New Jersey cast intact. The show stars Jimmy Smits, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Priscilla Lopez, John Ortiz, Vanessa Aspillaga, Victor Argo and David Zayas. Emily Mann directs.
By close, the production will have played 15 previews and 113 performances.
Previews began Nov. 4, 2003. Anna ended at the McCarter Theatre Oct. 19.
Anna is not alone in saying goodbye to Broadway this week. Gypsy, Never Gonna Dance and Retreat From Moscow all posted closing notices since Monday Feb. 2 (with Gypsy anbd Never Gonna Dance producers saying the bitterly cold recent weather was partly to blame, since it discouraged theatregoers). Anna has been struggling at the box office lately, despite the recent sexy ad campaign that featured the bare chest of Jimmy Smits and the lacey lingerie of Rubin-Vega. Playwright Cruz set his play in a Cuban-American cigar factory in 1929 Florida. The factory employs "lectors" to entertain and educate the factory workers, and a new lector who reads aloud from Anna Karenina becomes "a catalyst in the lives of his avid listeners, for whom Tolstoy, the tropics, and the American dream prove a volatile combination."
Smits, known from television's "NYPD Blue" and "L.A. Law," recently returned to the theatre, acting in Twelfth Night in Central Park in 2002.
Anna will be Rubin-Vega's first non-musical Broadway role. An original cast member of Rent, she later acted in The Rocky Horror Show. Off-Broadway, she has shown herself a capable dramatic actress in plays like Two Sisters and a Piano (also by Cruz) and Fucking A.
Both Ortiz and Zayas are company members of the rising Off-Broadway outfit LAByrinth Theatre Company. The acted together in the original Jesus Hopped the A Train and Zayas also appeared in LAByrinth's recent Our Lady of 121st Street.
Lopez returns to Broadway for the first time in 20 years, since stepping into the role of Liliane La Fleur in the original mounting of Nine. She became a star as the original Diana in A Chorus Line and won a Tony Award for A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine.
Anna is the first play since Robert Schenkkan's The Kentucky Cycle to win the Pulitzer without having had a production in New York.
Cruz's other plays include Night Time to Bolina, A Park in Our House, Dancing on Her Knees and Two Sisters and a Piano. The latter two were both presented at the Public Theater, the largest New York productions Cruz has received.
Anna in the Tropics was commissioned by the New Theatre in Coral Gables, FL. Cruz was playwright-in-residence there during the 2001-2002 season. Anna premiered at the New Theatre during the 2002-03 season.