Director and producer Ludovica Villar-Hauser has successfully gathered investors and reportedly raised the $500,000 necessary to secure a new home for the long-running Off-Broadway drama, The Countess. Money in hand, Villa-Hauser completed negotiations with the 349-seat Lambs Theatre where The Countess will now have a "soft reopening" the week of May 8 and previews from April 24.
"We'll have the same cast," a production spokesperson told Playbill On Line. "We're calling it a reopening and not a simple transfer because there are new elements in the staging and the production design."
The Victorian-era drama, written by Gregory Murphy and directed by Ludovica Villar Hauser, traces the true-life love triangle and sensational Victorian scandal that ensued some 146 years ago when London society learned that England's art critic and trend setter, John Ruskin, was being sued for divorce by his charming and popular wife, Effie, on the grounds that their union had never been consummated. Ruskin's wife was instantly vilified, and it was later revealed that there was another man, John Everett Millais, a founder of the Pre-Raphaelite movement.
The show's spokesperson said performances would begin April 24 with the reopening scheduled for the week of May 8.
A Countess spokesman was enthused by the reopening, saying that the move effectively quadrupled the show's capacity over its old home at the Samuel Beckett. The show logged its last Theatre Row performance there on March 19. The Countess played more than 300 performances at the 74-seat Samuel Beckett, making it the longest running new drama either on or Off-Broadway this season. The show left Theatre Row because the block is being razed and replaced by a larger theatre and a towering commercial/residential building. Though The Countess gets a new lease on life, there is something of a cloud over the Lambs as well, because the Church of the Nazarene has reportedly sold the building to a developer.
Tickets for The Countess run $55. The Lambs Theatre is located at 130 West 44th Street. For tickets and information call Telecharge at (212) 239-6200 or the theatre's box office at (212) 997-1780.
-- By Murdoch McBride