Thanks for Coming! Festen's Dinner Party From Hell Ends May 20

News   Thanks for Coming! Festen's Dinner Party From Hell Ends May 20 Director Rufus Norris and playwright David Eldridge's stage adaptation of the Danish film Festen, a critical and popular hit in London which failed to find an audience on Broadway, ends its run at the Music Box Theatre on May 20.

Julianna Margulies and Michael Hayden in Festen.
Julianna Margulies and Michael Hayden in Festen.

The closing notice came one day before Tony Award nominations were announced on May 16. If the producers suspected they wouldn't do well by the Tonys, they were right: the show failed to earn any nominations.

Festen, which means "celebration" in Danish and focuses on an incident-packed 60th birthday party of a respected businessman, began previews on March 23 and officially opened April 9. It will have played 20 previews and 49 regular performances.

"In Festen, a beloved patriarch, surrounded by his wife, his daughter, his two sons and a host of family and friends, is celebrating his 60th birthday at his country home," according to the producers. "This promises to be a very special occasion, but as the evening progresses, the man’s eldest son, Christian, feels compelled to break the silence surrounding a family secret. Standing to propose a toast, he offers his father — much to the delight of the guests — an amusing yet simple choice. And so the games begin. Revelations and accusations tumble across the dinner table, paving the way for a celebration that no one will ever forget."

Throughout the run, some unsuspecting audience members gasped at the accusation of sexual abuse that is central to the experience. The play also touches on ideas of racism, classism, denial, mental illness and more.

Young British director Norris presents his American actors in an inscrutable black box of a space (designed by Ian McNeil), inviting theatregoers to use their imaginations. Spare pieces of furniture — a bed, chairs, a massive dinner table — create a world of domesticity and order that, over the course of the play, is disrupted, stripped and broken, mirroring the state of the strained, affluent family. The cast features Larry Bryggman, Michael Hayden, Ali MacGraw, Julianna Margulies, Jeremy Sisto, John Carter, Diane Davis, Keith Davis, David Patrick Kelly, Stephen Kunken, Meredith Lipson, Carrie Preston, Ryan Simpkins, Christopher Evan Welch and C.J. Wilson.

Festen will play Tuesday at 7 PM, Wednesday through Saturday at 8 PM, with matinees on Wednesday & Saturday at 2 PM at the Music Box Theatre, 239 West 45th Street. Tickets are $25-$95, and are available through Telecharge, (212) 239-6200 or www.telecharge.com.

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