The Royal Alexandra Theatre production of Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt's Enigma Variations, starring Donald Sutherland as Abel Znorko, begins previews in Toronto Feb. 17. Mirvish Productions has confirmed that Tony Award-winning actor John Rubinstein (Children of a Lesser God) has been cast opposite Sutherland as the journalist, Erik Larsen.
Enigma Variations opens officially Feb. 24 and runs through April 1. The show was rumored to be headed for Broadway, and may still be, but Playbill On-Line has learned that the show may be playing London's West End immediately after Toronto, instead of New York. Enigma's Toronto run is scheduled to end April 1, just four weeks before the 1999 2000 Tony deadline. While this is a tight schedule for a move to Broadway, the 30-day window of opportunity will theoretically allow Enigma to become Tony eligible. A West End theatre was not named.
Should the play go to New York, it would mark movie actor Sutherland's first Broadway appearance since acting in Edward Albee's ill-fated Lolita in 1981. Anthony Page has been mentioned to direct the play.
Calls to producer Emanuel Azenberg's office were not returned by presstime.
Enigma focuses on a reclusive Nobel Prize-winning writer, Znorko (Sutherland) who gives an interview to a small-town journalist, Erik Larsen, which in turn leads to a life-and-death battle of wits. As reported earlier on Playbill On-Line, film commitments prompted the postponement of the Toronto production of Enigma Variations, which was originally scheduled to start performances Sept. 14. Sutherland postponed his opening in order to complete the Clint Eastwood Malpaso/Mad Chance Production, "Space Cowboys," which was written by Ken Kaufman and Howard Klausner and stars Tommy Lee Jones, James Cromwell and James Gardner.
Sutherland became a movie star following his portrayal of Hawkeye Pierce in the Robert Altman movie "M*A*S*H." He went on to become one of the leading film actors of the early '70s, delivering performances in such off beat films as "Klute," "Kelly's Heroes" and "Little Murders." In recent years, Sutherland has played memorable villains and supporting character roles, in film including "Backdraft," "JFK" and "A Time to Kill." He most recently played the coach in Robert Towne's "Without Limits."
-- By Murdoch McBride