The longest-running play of the current season, Off-Broadway's The Countess re-opens at the Lambs Theatre on May 11 after running 352 performances at the Samuel Beckett.
The Lambs opening marks the second transfer of the show, which premiered at the Greenwich Street Theatre in March 1999 before moving to the Samuel Beckett where it closed on March 19 to allow for new construction on West 42nd Street.
Countess director and producer Ludovica Villar-Hauser conducted successful negotiations with the 349-seat Lambs Theatre where The Countess will started previews on April 24.
We're calling it a reopening and not a simple transfer because there are new elements in the staging and the production design," a production spokesperson told Playbill On-Line.
The cast for The Countess comprises Jennifer Woodward (Effie Ruskin), James Riordan (John Ruskin), Jy Murphy (John Everett Millais), Kristin Griffith, John Quilty, Anita Keal and Richard Seff. The production team for the show includes set designer Mark Symczak, costume designer Christopher Lione, lighting director Doug Filomena and original music by Dewey Dellay. Production manager is Andrew John Tucker.
The Victorian-era drama, 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.
A Countess spokesman was enthused by the reopening, saying that the move effectively quadrupled the show's capacity over its old home at the Samuel Beckett. The Countess played 352 performances at the 74-seat Samuel Beckett, making it the longest running new drama either on or Off-Broadway this season. The show left Theatre Row because the block is being razed and replaced by a larger theatre and a towering commercial/residential building.
Though The Countess gets a new lease on life, there is something of a cloud over the Lambs building as well; the Church of the Nazarene is reportedly working with prospective buyer Hampshire Hotels on the "mixed use development" of the property.
Tickets for The Countess run $55. The Lambs Theatre is located at 130 West 44th Street. For tickets and information call Telecharge at (212) 239-6200 or the theatre's box office at (212) 997-1780.
-- By Murdoch McBride