The Public Theater ends its extended Off-Broadway run of Richard Greenberg's Take Me Out Nov. 24 at the Anspacher Theater, and audiences are looking ahead to the play's move to Broadway Feb. 4, 2003.
Fall tickets to the world premiere co-production by the Public and the Donmar Warehouse in London were hard to get once news spread about the show's content, which intrigued multiple demographics: A star ballplayer of a Yankees-like baseball team comes out of the closet in a season packed with racial tension, violence and celebrity ego. Did we mention the killing in Act Two? Did we mention the nude shower scenes? Did we mention the play looks at baseball as a microcosm for America?
Tickets for the Broadway run quietly went on sale via Tele charge before the run at Off-Broadway's Public ended, but the sales haven't been advertised in deference to the not for-profit Public. In-person sales begin Jan. 6, 2003 at the Walter Kerr Theatre (the day after Proof closes there).
The current Take Me Out company is in negotiations toward the Broadway run, and all are expected to repeat their duties uptown (the script will be somewhat revised, Greenberg told Playbill On-Line) at the Kerr. Joe Mantello directs, as he did in London over the summer and for the fall run in NYC.
* The Broadway script will sport significant revisions. Greenberg told Playbill On-Line that he has been making cuts to the play since it began its Off-Broadway run. "It is already shorter than is was opening night," he said, "by about six or seven minutes. There are all sorts of approaches to [cutting]."
The current third act will also be briefer on Broadway, as will the longest of the play's shower scenes. Variety recently suggested that Take Me Out will go from a three-act to a two-act format. The official Broadway opening is Feb. 27.
Carole Shorenstein Hays will partner with Freddy DeMann to be the producing team for the Broadway run of Take Me Out, the Donmar Warehouse and The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival production of Richard Greenberg's literate and visceral play about baseball.
Hays produced the Pulitzer Prize winning Topdog/Underdog, and The Goat as well as the long running productions of Proof and The Tale of the Allergist's Wife on Broadway, among many other works. She co-owns the Curran, the Golden Gate, and the Orpheum Theatres in San Francisco, and was previously announced as the sole producer of the Broadway stand of Take Me Out.
Brooklyn native and now Los Angeles resident DeMann recently partnered with Hays to co-produce Suzan-Lori Parks' Topdog/Underdog. The 35-year veteran in the entertainment business helped elevate Madonna and Michael Jackson to international stardom. He was also a producer of Proof. DeMann is in pre-production with HBO on a film based on the life of Peter Sellers starring Geoffrey Rush and directed by Stephen Hopkins.
The creative team's work, including Scott Pask's potent Astro-Turf-trimmed scenic design, will have to be modified for a proscenium house.
In addition to the much-publicized nudity in the three-act play's locker room scenes, crowds have been wowed by the play's view of baseball as democracy in microcosm, to say nothing of Greenberg's take on celebrity, homophobia, ego, prejudice, friendship and more. Pundits say the confluence of ideas in Take Me Out (the title has many meanings) makes it a likely candidate for the major prizes come spring (Greenberg was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Three Days of Rain).
The play's central event involves a superstar ball player (played by Daniel Sunjata) telling the world he's gay and the ramifications of the disclosure, though the play reaches beyond that plot point. Observers have pointed out the incident is just that — incidental to the larger canvas.
The third extension to Nov. 24 at The Public coincided with the Broadway transfer confirmation Oct. 10. Take Me Out began previews Aug. 23 and opened Sept. 5 at The Public. It has been extended three times downtown. The play was a hot prospect for commercial transfer since its first preview. It will be the third Public Theater production in a year to transfer to Broadway, following Elaine Stritch At Liberty and Topdog/Underdog.
Sanguine reviews and pre-opening newspaper articles about Take Me Out's sexual, racial and sports content — to say nothing of the male nude scenes — have fueled intense interest from sports fans and traditional theatregoers alike.
Greenberg has kept New York City supplied with a steady stream of plays lately, included Everett Beekin and The Dazzle, but Take Me Out looks to be his hottest property since Three Days of Rain became one of the most-produced plays in the U.S. He is also the author of Eastern Standard, Night and Her Stars and The Extra Man.
Greenberg, whom nobody would call a sports fan, wrote the play after becoming suddenly obsessed with baseball one recent summer. In the play, Darren Lemming, a young and popular baseball star at the top of his game, calls a press conference and, without telling anyone what he is about to do, comes out to the media. Not surprisingly, there is considerable fallout. A choice bit of dialogue from the work runs: "If I'm gonna have sex — and I am because I'm young and rich and famous and talented and handsome so it's a law — I'd rather do it with a guy, but, when all is said and done...I'd rather just play ball."
The London Donmar Warehouse run played June 20-Aug. 3.
Mantello (who already has Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune on Broadway, and A Man of No Importance Off-Broadway) directs a cast that includes Kevin Carroll (45 Seconds From Broadway, Angels in America), Dominic Fumusa (Tape and [sic]), Gene Gabriel, Neal Huff (The Public's Tempest and Troilus and Cressida), Robert M. Jimenez (The Public's Richard II, Marisol, Othello), Joe Lisi, Denis O'Hare (Cabaret, Ten Unknowns), Kohl Sudduth, Daniel Sunjata (a Lincoln Center Twelfth Night and Williamstown Theatre vet, playing the ballplayer who outs himself), Frederick Weller (The Shape of Things) and James Yaegashi (an Alabama Shakespeare Festival vet).
On Oct. 1, ticket prices for the show increased with the first extension, to $55, from $45.
For ticket information for Take Me Out, call Tele charge at (212) 239-6200.