There's new news on the Public Theatre production of The Seagull, starring Kevin Kline and Meryl Streep, and directed by Mike Nichols—a story Playbill On-Line first broke on March 6. The play, once planned to play Central Park's Delacorte in 2000 and then postponed until 2001, may now find a home in a Broadway or Off-Broadway theatre, according to a Dec. 22 report in the New York Times. Spaces being looked at include Broadway's Booth Theatre, Off-Broadway Promenade Theatre and non traditional industrial buildings.
"The artistic team wants to find an intimate space," Public producer George C. Wolfe told the Times, "and that's not the park."
Streep and Kline have been linked to the project from the very beginning and are reportedly committed to it, as is Natalie Portman. Other actors mentioned by both the Times and Variety are Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, and Allison Janney—though the Times was quick to point out that the Public did not confirm any such casting. (The Variety article, however, made Walken and Hoffman sound like a certainty.) When last contacted by Playbill On-Line, the Public said no new casting decisions had been made.
Walken was missing from the stage for many years before returning in last year's surprise critical hit, James Joyce's The Dead. Janney, a theatre veteran now finding success on television's "The West Wing," last appeared on stage at the Delacorte as Kate in The Taming of the Shrew. Hoffman triumphed in a Broadway revival of True West last spring and currently directs Jesus Hopped the A Train, a success Off-Broadway.
* The new Seagull began with a recent reading of Chekhov's classic held in Mike Nichols' Manhattan apartment, starring Streep and Kline. Streep will play Arkadina to Kline's Trigorin. Mike Nichols will direct.
Portman, whose movie roles include "Star Wars, Episode I: the Phantom Menace" and "Anywhere but Here," will play the pivotal role of Nina. Her last stage work was as the titular heroine in the first Broadway revival of The Diary of Anne Frank.
Wes Bentley, of the film "American Beauty," was also at one time reportedly being sought for the production.
Nichols, Streep and Kline have all been absent from the New York stage for some years. Though Nichols has "supervised" various plays, 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. The winner of two Oscars, she was recently nominated for another for "Music of the Heart."
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 performances in July or August of 2001.