Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of George Bernard Shaw's Arms and the Man opens Jan. 15 and runs through April 30 at the Gramercy Theatre. Henry Czerny, Katie Finneran and Paul Michael Valley appear in the Off-Broadway production, which features several familiar names, including two current television stars.
Said to be Shaw's fourth work, Arms originally opened at London's Avenue Theatre in 1894. A subsequent New York staging propelled Shaw's career in this country. Later, in 1909, the show was done as The Chocolate Soldier with music by Oscar Straus.
Director Roger Rees is one of the familiar television talents connected with the Roundabout production.
Rees helms the production but his career as an actor has been enhanced with his recent recurring role on NBC's "West Wing." In that series, Rees plays the visiting "British Lord," a brilliant, if ditzy savant who is favored by the U.S. President (Martin Sheen). Rees' character smokes freely in the Oval Office while riding roughshod over senior White House staffers.
Later in the Roundabout season, Rees will star alongside Derek Jacobi in Uncle Vanya when that play opens the Roundabout's permanent new home at the renovated Selwyn Theatre in April. Rees was last seen on stage with Uma Thurman in The Misanthrope. Among numerous other credits, he received Tony and Olivier Awards as well as an Emmy nomination for his performance in The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. G.B. Shaw, a Nobel Prize-winning playwright, was born in Dublin in 1856. Arms and the Man examines military glory in a story about a soldier who begins to realize that warfare is more about careful paperwork than anything else.
Making his Roundabout debut, Henry Czerny appeared onstage in Comedy of Errors and Romeo and Juliet in Canada and in such films as "The Ice Storm" and "Mission: Impossible."
Joining Czerny is a Roundabout alumna Katie Finneran, another familiar talent with recent success in television. Finneran appeared in the Roundabout production of Shaw's You Never Can Tell. Popular with broadcast audiences for her work in "Frasier," Finneran has also worked on Broadway in The Iceman Cometh and has appeared in Proposals, The Heiress and My Favorite Year.
Another Roundabout veteran, Paul Michael Valley made his debut on Broadway in the company's 1776, and was also in the Off-Broadway productions ofHurrah at Last and Walking Off the Road as well as the television soap, "Another World."
Also featured in the cast are Tom Bloom, Michael Potts, Sandra Shipley and Robin Weigart.
The production team for Arms and the Man comprises set designer Neil Patel, costume designer Kaye Voyce, lighting designer Frances Aronson and sound designer Donald Nicoloa.
All seats are $55 and tickets are available by calling the Gramercy Theatre at (212) 777-4900. For theatre company information visit www.roundabout theatre.org.
-- By Murdoch McBride