After opening to critical acclaim at the Broadhurst Theatre Nov. 13, Merchant of Venice recouped its $3.45 million investment after ten weeks of performances, producers announced Jan. 6. The production has been box-office gold since its Broadway arrival, grossing over a million dollars weekly and playing to capacity, a rarity for a play on Broadway.
The Public Theater, Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel produce the Broadway engagement, which recently announced an extension through Feb. 20 after a brief hiatus. Merchant will go on hiatus following the Jan. 9 performance in order to allow Pacino to fulfill a prior film commitment (the date marked the original closing performance of the limited run). Performances will resume Feb. 1 and continue through Feb. 20.
A spokesperson for the production informed Playbill.com that at this time, only Pacino and Lily Rabe are confirmed for the extension; complete casting is still being finalized.
Pacino stars as Shylock opposite Rabe as Portia in Daniel Sullivan's revival of the classic, which puts a dark spin on the tale of forgiveness, greed, faith and the human hunger for revenge. The Broadway company, which reunites members of the Shakespeare in the Park run and new cast members, began previews Oct. 19.
The Merchant cast also includes Shakespeare in the Park company members Jesse L. Martin (Rent) as Gratiano, Byron Jennings (Inherit the Wind) as Antonio, Heather Lind as Jessica, Gerry Bamman (Mrs. Farnsworth) as the Duke of Venice, Matthew Rauch (Still Life) as Solanio and Richard Topol (Awake and Sing!) as Tubal. New for the Broadway engagement are Tony Award nominee Christopher Fitzgerald (Finian's Rainbow, Wicked) as Launcelot Gobbo, Marsha Stephanie Blake (Joe Turner's Come and Gone) as Nerissa, David Harbour (The Coast of Utopia) as Bassanio, Peter Francis James (On Golden Pond) as Salerio, Isaiah Johnson as Prince of Morocco, Charles Kimbrough (Accent on Youth) as Prince of Arragon and Seth Numrich (On the Levee) as Lorenzo.
Returning ensemble members include Happy Anderson, Liza J. Bennett, Bryce Gill, Jade Hawk, Bethany Heinrich, Tia James, Kelsey Kurz, Brian Macdonald and Dorien Makhloghi. The Broadway run also includes new ensemble members Glenn Fleshler, Luke Forbes, Herb Foster, Thomas M. Hammond, Curt Hostetter, Dorien Makhloghi, Kim Martin-Cotten and Baylen Thomas.
The Broadway run of Merchant reunites the Shakespeare in the Park creative team, including Mark Wendland (scenic design), Jess Goldstein (costume design), Kenneth Posner (lighting design) and Acme Sound Partners (sound design). Dan Moses Schreier penned original music for Merchant of Venice.
Here's how the Public bills the Shakespeare classic: "The Merchant of Venice is one of Shakespeare’s most thrilling and controversial plays, rich with love and betrayal, forgiveness and revenge. The Jewish moneylender Shylock makes a loan to Antonio, a Christian merchant. Their loan contract, steeped in prejudice and centered on the play's infamous 'pound of flesh,' sweeps the two men and everyone in their worlds into chaos. Only the insightful Portia can imagine a way forward, but for her and those she loves, even 'the quality of mercy' has its limits."
Pacino earned a Tony Award for his Broadway debut in Does a Tiger Wear Necktie? and was also honored with a Tony Award for The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel. Pacino starred in the 1996 production of Hughie, which he also directed. In addition to his stage roles in Camino Real, King Richard III, American Buffalo and Chinese Coffee, he is well known for the films "Scent of a Woman" (Academy Award), "The Godfather," "Scarface," "Dog Day Afternoon," "Frankie and Johnny," "Glengarry Glen Ross," "Ocean's Thirteen" and "Angels in America."
For tickets phone (212) 239-6200 or visit Telecharge.com. The Broadhurst Theatre is located at 235 W. 44th Street.