After 675 total performances, a Pulitzer Prize and an 18-month stint Off Broadway, Donald Margulies' comedy Dinner With Friends will end its run at the Variety Arts Theatre May 27. After seven previews in Stamford, CT, Dinner played 15 previews and 653 regular performances in New York.
The show, which opened Nov. 4, 1999, takes a rueful look at marriage, divorce and friendship. The characters' loyalties and values shift through the action, all in the context of middle-age malaise. Karen and Gabe are married food writers who question their marriage and their comfort when their best friends, Tom and Beth, split up.
Daniel Sullivan directs the New York staging as he did the 2000 Los Angeles and Boston stagings. As of late April, original cast members Lisa Emery and Matthew Arkin were playing Karen and Gabe; John Hillner and Carolyn McCormick were playing Gabe and Karen's pals, Tom and Beth.
Designers for the urban, suburban and rural settings in the multi-set play (on a turntable stage) are Neil Patel (set), Jess Goldstein (costumes) and Rui Rita (lighting), providing an upper-middle class milieu.
Pre-Pulitzer, the play was seen at Actors Theatre of Louisville and (in a revised form) South Coast Repertory Theatre. The world premiere was part of the 1998 Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre in Kentucky. The revised version was staged by Sullivan at South Coast Rep in Costa Mesa, CA, in October 1998. The New York producers of Dinner With Friends are Mitchell Maxwell, Mark Balsam, Ted Tulchin, Victoria Maxwell, Mari Nakachi and Steven Tulchin.
Other Margulies works include The Model Apartment, Found a Peanut and The Loman Family Picnic. The show recouped its $660,000 investment cost and has been filmed for HBO.
For ticket information on Dinner with Friends at the Variety Arts Theatre: 110 Third Avenue, call (212) 239-6200.
The period of mid-May through early June is often a tough one for shows both on and off Broadway. Those that win major awards tend to survive. Others, faced with dwindling summer crowds and competition from the very active New York spring season, tend to pack it in by Memorial Day or Tony time. As such, this weekend will also see the close of the long running Fully Committed. The past two weeks have seen the shutterings of Broadway's Seussical, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Gathering and Design for Living. Thanks to a donation from Alanis Morissette and a Drama Desk win (and growing sense of a possible Tony win) for Marla Schaffel, Jane Eyre took back its May 20 closing notice and is now slated to run (at least) through June 10.
— By David Lefkowitz
and Kenneth Jones