Variety reports that the two actors look likely for the cast of the Pulitzer Prize-winning work at the New Jersey theatre. Nilo Cruz’s Anna in the Tropics will open the McCarter’s new Berlind Theatre in September, playing Sept. 9-Oct. 19. Both Smits and Esparza have taken part in previous readings of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize-winning opus.
Cruz — a former McCarter artist-in-residence — has set his play in a Cuban-American cigar factory in 1929. The factory employs “lectors” to entertain and educate the factory workers, and a new lector who reads aloud from Anna Karenina becomes “a catalyst in the lives of his avid listeners, for whom Tolstoy, the tropics, and the American dream prove a volatile combination.”
McCarter Artistic Director Emily Mann will direct the mounting of Anna in the Tropics, which will have separate productions at two other theatres this year: Chicago’s Victory Garden and Costa Mesa’s South Coast Repertory.
Raul Esparza starred on Broadway in Cabaret and The Rocky Horror Show, and recently appeared Off-Broadway in the revival of Comedians. He was seen in the national tours of Evita and tick, tick . . . BOOM! and also starred in two of the Stephen Sondheim musicals that comprised last summer’s Sondheim Celebration, Sunday in the Park with George and Merrily We Roll Along.
A graduate of Brooklyn College with a theatre degree, Jimmy Smits appeared in the Public Theater’s productions of Hamlet and Ballad of Soapy Smith. The actor garnered an Emmy Award for his work on the NBC drama “L.A. Law” and also received multiple Emmy nominations for his role on “N.Y.P.D. Blue.” His other screen credits include “Old Gringo,” “Switch,” “My Family” and “Price of Glory.” Last summer, Smits appeared in the Public Theater’s Shakespeare-in-the-Park production of Twelfth Night. The McCarter Theatre is located in Princeton, N.J., at 91 University Place. For more information, visit www.mccarter.org.