The Countess, having just logged its 330th performance at the 74 seat Samuel Beckett Theatre on West 42nd Street, will be moving to the Lambs Theatre in early April, Playbill On-Line has learned.
Director Ludovica Villar-Hauser signed a minimum six-month deal with the Lambs on March 3.
Having received an eviction notice from the theatre company's landlord at the Samuel Beckett, The Countess will have its last performance on Theatre Row on March 19. Reports indicate that the 42nd Street Development Corporation will be moving ahead with plans raze the block, which means gutting the Samuel Beckett and replacing several other Theatre Row venues with a residential complex that features retail and theatre space below.
Though small venues will be lost, strict zoning regulations mandate that any demolished theatre in the area must be replaced, even if that means with an equivalent amount of theatre seats. The Shuberts have been named as joint sponsors in the new development and a larger theatre is expected to be built as part of the new development. A call to the Shubert Organization was not returned by press time.
With this move, The Countess gets a new lease on life, but there is something of a cloud over the Lambs as well. A production spokesperson said that director Villar-Hauser described the move as "jumping from the frying pan -- though not into the fire -- but instead into another frying pan." The spokesperson said that the Lambs was also at risk of being terminated, as the Samuel Beckett has been -- in the name of progress.
"The Church of the Nazarene has sold the (Lambs) building to a developer," the spokesperson said, "but there was a big outcry when the prospect of losing the theatre was made in conjunction with the deal. The church and the developer both have serious misgivings, having realized they may be inviting discord and public outcry if they eliminate this theatre."
In any case, members of The Countess production agree that the move to the Lambs is "certainly a positive development for the show," which is scheduled to resume performances at an unspecified date in the first week of April.
As reported earlier, The Countess, having logged its 300th performance at the Samuel Beckett Theatre Feb. 9, remains the longest running new drama of the season, both on or Off-Broadway. The Victorian era scandal, written by Gregory Murphy and directed by Ludovica Villar Hauser, traces the true-life love triangle and sensational Victorian scandal that ensued some 146 years ago when London society learned that England's art critic and trend setter, John Ruskin, was being sued for divorce by his charming and popular wife, Effie, on the grounds that their union had never been consummated. Ruskin's wife was instantly vilified, and it was later revealed that there was another man, John Everett Millais, a founder of the Pre-Raphaelite movement.
Through March 19, the regular ticket price of $45 applies to The Countess. The Samuel Beckett Theatre is located at 410 West 42nd Street. Call Ticketmaster at (212) 307-4100 for credit cards, or the box office at (212) 594-2826.
-- By Murdoch McBride