The Honeymooners: Rickman and Duncan Open in Broadway's Private Lives, April 28

News   The Honeymooners: Rickman and Duncan Open in Broadway's Private Lives, April 28

Alan Rickman and Lindsay Duncan in Private Lives.
Alan Rickman and Lindsay Duncan in Private Lives. (Photo by Photo by A. Muir)

The award-winning British production of Noel Coward's Private Lives, starring Alan Rickman and Lindsay Duncan as the jaggedly sophisticated Elyot and Amanda, will officially open at Broadway's Richard Rodgers Theatre April 28, after previews since April 19.

In its Broadway incarnation, the revival retains its original cast. Joining the stars are Emma Fielding as Sybil, Adam Godley as Victor and Alex Belcourt as Louise, the French maid. All five appeared in the play at the Albery Theatre in London. Howard Davies directs.

The production marks Alan Rickman's first visit to Broadway since he starred under Davies' direction in Les Liaisons Dangereuses, 15 years ago. Coincidentally, his stage partner in that show was Lindsay Duncan. Between the two plays, Duncan paid a short call on Broadway in the Adrian Noble's 1996 mounting of A Midsummer Night's Dream. She was last seen in New York in Harold Pinter's Ashes to Ashes.

As in the more tragic Les Liaisons Dangereuses, the Coward comedy finds Rickman and Duncan playing brittle, witty lovers who wreak havoc on the lives of the people around them. The play famously begins with the best-known balcony scene since Romeo and Juliet, as Elyot and Amanda, once husband and wife, meet unexpectedly on the first nights of their respective honeymoons. It only takes a few martinis and some potent cheap music from the hotel orchestra to send the couple speeding away from their new spouses and toward a flat in Paris. Tim Hartley provides the stunning, perspective-heavy, art deco settings. Jenny Beavans decks out the cast in some swanky costumes, Peter Mumford lights up the Eiffel Tower outside the window in Act Two, and John Leonard is the sound designer.

Duncan won an Olivier Award for her portrayal of Amanda.

In the past decade or so, Rickman has given the film world many a theatrical villain, including those in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," "Die Hard" and "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."

A spokesman for the new revival said the pre-sale income for the show is nearly $2 million.

The original 1931 Broadway production of Private Lives famously starred Coward and Gertrude Lawrence. Since then, Broadway has seen stagings featuring (as Amanda and Elyot) Tallulah Bankhead and Donald Cook (1949); Tammy Grimes and Brian Bedford (1970); Maggie Smith and John Standing (1975); Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton (1983); and Joan Collins and Simon Jones (1992).

A 1999 London production of Private Lives starred Juliet Stevenson. Regionally, famed American director Marshall Mason staged a March production of the play for Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.