Lyle Kessler's Robbers, a hit at Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, CT, two years ago, opened Feb. 23 at Off-Broadway's American Place Theatre, but will close Sunday, March 2, after only 9 regular performances.
According to production spokesperson Hugh Hayes, the show received "mostly negative reviews, and Lyle has his particular brand of story telling, which was very exciting to many people, but unfortunately not the critics' cup of tea." The show began Feb. 7, with 20 previews before opening.
Co-founder of the recently departed Circle Repertory Theatre, Marshall W. Mason, directs, as he did at Long Wharf. The opening night, originally scheduled for Feb. 20, had been moved to Sunday, Feb. 23. Production spokesperson Hugh Hayes said the change was made because Stanley opens on Broadway Feb. 20, and Robbers, though Off-Broadway, desired its own opening night.
Because Long Wharf star Judd Hirsch is in Toronto doing Death Of A Salesman, the play was re-cast with Jonathan Hadary in the lead. Also in the play are Michael Rapaport, Reiko Aylesworth, John Doman, Sandra P. Grant and Paul Ben Victor.
Robbers' plot concerns a mysterious bag of garbage found on the doorstep of Ted, a pet supply delivery boy. Feathers, a mysterious detective, convinces Ted to go undercover at a canning factory, where employees are pilfering from their boss. Now a spy, Ted discovers no one at the company is who he seems to be. The play asks, "who are the real robbers? Are there rights and wrongs in a society gone so recklessly askew? Scott Allyn and Richard L. Barovick are producing the play in New York, where sets are by Loren Sherman, lighting by Phil Monat and costumes by Laura Crow.
Kessler, best known for the play Orphans, has also written the drama, The Watering Place. A professor of theatre at Arizona State University, Marshall W. Mason directed the Broadway mountings of Lanford Wilson plays Redwood Curtain, Burn This, Talley's Folly, Fifth Of July and Albert Innuarato's Gemini.
Michael Rapaport is best known as a film actor (Mighty Aphrodite, Beautiful Girls) while Jonathan Hadary is an acclaimed stage performer (Tony-nominated for the revival of Gypsy, an Obie for As Is, Sondheim's original Assassins).
For tickets ($45) and information on Robbers, which plays at the American Place Theatre on West 46th St. call (212) 239-6200.
-- By David Lefkowitz