Ticketbuyers and critics in the U.S. weren't as jazzed by the Broadway production as their counterparts overseas were by the London staging. The British-created production is inspired by the Danish film of the same name. The dramatization was written by David Eldridge.
The final performance of Festen at the Music Box will be 8 PM May 20. The closing notice came one day before Tony Award nominations were to be announced, but the staging had divided critics in America wasn't expected to be a major player in the Tony race.
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.