This town's not big enough for two productions of Our Town.
Or, so it would seem. The Roundabout Theatre Company has canceled plans for its announced production of Thornton Wilder's classic Our Town. The news came hot on the heels of reports that the much-publicized Westport Country Playhouse production of Wilder's philosophical work, starring Paul Newman, may soon arrive on Broadway.
Still, the cancellation may have happened regardless of Westport's plans. Roundabout artistic director Todd Haimes recently sounded off about the detrimental effect of the newly pumped up League of Resident Theatres (LORT) basic salaries.
Haimes said he might cut Our Town, which has a large cast, from the schedule. "There's a 50-50 chance we won't do it," he told Variety. "We're looking at the budget for next year and we may not be able to afford it... We can't do the same size productions as we did in the past, which for a theatre like ours that does classics is a problem."
Our Town is the first direct casualty of the new LORT contract. Roundabout Actors compensation will leap 57 percent at the American Airlines and 48 percent at the Vivian Beaumont over the course of the three-year agreement, resulting in a $1,000 minimum paycheck at both stages. In addition, if a Roundabout or LCT home-stage show extends, as they often do, the mounting will now instantly switch over from the LORT to a Production Contract. Westport's Our Town closed as scheduled on June 22 at the Playhouse, earning respectable reviews. Ironically, there was some scuttlebutt that the mounting would be adopted by the Roundabout Theatre Company. But the Post reported that that staging would be produced by Westport. James Naughton would direct again.
The Post said the run would last only eight weeks, and speculated that, in order for such a short run to be profitable, tickets would sell for $100—making the show an event production along the lines of the Kevin Spacey The Iceman Cometh of a few seasons back.
Newman played the folksy Stage Manager, with Jeffrey DeMunn and Jane Curtin as Mr. and Mrs. Webb, Frank Converse and Jayne Atkinson as Mr. and Mrs. Gibbs. John Braden was Prof. Willard and Jake Robards was Howie Newsome. Stephen Spinella played Simon Stimpson and Mia Dillon filled the role of Mrs. Soames. Finally, the production's young lovers were Ben Fox as George Gibbs and Maggie Lacey as Emily Gibbs.
The entire cast has signed on for the project, according to the Post.