Simon Russell Beale Is Cabbie With a Past in NYC Debut of Bluebird, Opening Aug. 22

News   Simon Russell Beale Is Cabbie With a Past in NYC Debut of Bluebird, Opening Aug. 22
 
Olivier Award winner and Tony Award nominee Simon Russell Beale has returned to the New York stage in the U.S. premiere of Simon Stephens' Bluebird, opening Aug. 22, in which he plays a London cabbie listening to the woes of his eclectic passengers. Previews began Aug. 9.

Simon Russell Beale and Kate Blumberg
Simon Russell Beale and Kate Blumberg Photo by Kevin Thomas Garcia

Off-Broadway's Atlantic Theater Company presents the play at its intimate Atlantic Stage 2 on West 16th Street. The limited engagement plays to Sept. 9.

Director Gaye Taylor Upchurch's cast also includes Michael Countryman, Charlotte Parry, John Sharian, Kate Blumberg, Mary McCann (playing the wife of Beale's character), Tobias Segal and Todd Weeks.

Here's how ATC bills the play: "Jimmy MacNeill [Beale, late of London's Deathtrap and The Bridge Project] is a London taxi driver who seems to draw personal stories and confessions from his passengers without even trying. Over the course of Simon Stephens' meticulously-observed and deeply compassionate play, the truth of Jimmy's own life and secret burdens unfurls with each new 'fare.' In this acclaimed early play, the first of several he has since had produced at the Royal Court Theatre, Stephens illuminates big questions about how we transcend our own mistakes, and the value and cost of intimacy. He is an unparalleled observer of the small details that unlock joy and pain for the throngs of people anonymously going about their business in the big city."

"[Jimmy's] on the lower end of the spectrum of the cab driver world," Beale recently explained to Playbill magazine. "He drives a car that's halfway between the London black cabs and a gypsy cab. He picks up mostly drunken customers. Prostitutes, a depressed teacher. The difference in passengers as soon as darkness falls is quite marked."

Playwright Stephens was never a cabbie (nor was Beale), but some of the play is rooted in Stephens' experience as a bartender. Beale said, "Some of the extreme conversations in the play were taken from when he was a barman. He picked up a lot of drunken speeches. The two professions have that weird thing in common of an anonymous audience who's willing to listen."

Beale won't reveal the cabbie's secret, but he said Jimmy has done something "terrible" in the past. "The play is about how you can live with something devastatingly bad," he told Playbill magazine, "and how you move on."

Segal appeared in Broadway's The Miracle Worker, Blumberg is an ATC member who appeared in Farragut North, ATV member McCann was in Almost an Evening and Weeks appeared in Scarcity. Countryman recently appeared on Broadway in Mary Stuart and returns to Atlantic following his performances in The New York Idea and the 10x25 play festival. Parry, recent star of Broadway's The Importance of Being Earnest, makes her Atlantic debut. Also making his Atlantic debut is Sharian, of London's A Lie of the Mind and The Sweetest Swing.

Bluebird's creative team features Rachel Hauck (scenic design), Sarah Holden (costume design), Ben Stanton (lighting design) and Darron West (sound design).

Bluebird plays Monday-Saturday at 7:30 PM, Saturday at 2:30 PM, with special Wednesday matinees at 2:30 PM on Aug. 31 and Sept. 7.

All non-member tickets are $55 and available by calling Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 (ticketcentral.com) or in person at Atlantic Stage 2's box office, located at 330 West 16th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenues.

Visit www.atlantictheater.org.

Simon Russell Beale and Mary McCann
Simon Russell Beale and Mary McCann Photo by Kevin Thomas Garcia
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