Film director Louis Malle may have set Uncle Vanya on 42nd Street, but Sir Derek Jacobi, Laura Linney, Brian Murray and Roger Rees will be on 47th Street for the next few months -- more specifically the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, where the Roundabout Theatre Company’s mounting of Vanya starts previews April 6.
A delay associated with the elaborate set for the Anton Chekhov comedy drama had delayed the start of previews by 48 hours. "Tony Walton has just designed an extraordinary set," a production spokesperson told Playbill On-Line (April 4), "and there is a delay involved with getting it up." Uncle Vanya will open April 30 for a run through June 11.
Michael Mayer directs a cast starring Jacobi, Linney, Murray and Rees, alongside Rita Gam (A Flag is Born), David Patrick Kelly (Twelfth Night), Anne Pitoniak (Amy's View and Picnic, which earned her a Tony nomination) and Amy Ryan (Three Sisters), as well as Torben Brooks and James Coyle. The Chekhov play was translated by Mike Poulton.
Tony Award-winner Jacobi's film credits include "Hamlet," "The Secret Garden," "Breaking the Code," "Dead Again" and "Henry V." Jacobi was last seen on Broadway in the 1987 production of Breaking the Code and won his Tony for Much Ado About Nothing in 1985.
Linney appeared in Honour, Holiday, The Seagull, and Six Degrees of Separation. She received a Drama Desk nomination for her Off Broadway performance in Sight Unseen and first appeared at the Roundabout in Hedda Gabler. Her film credits include "The House of Mirth," "Congo," "Simple Twist of Fate," "Searching for Bobby Fischer" and "The Truman Show." Last seen at the Roundabout in Misalliance, Brian Murray has performed on Broadway in Twelfth Night, The Little Foxes (Tony and Drama Desk nominations), Noises Off (Drama Desk Award) and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Tony Award nomination) among others. Murray's Off-Broadway credits include Ashes (Obie Award), Travels With My Aunt (Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards), The Merry Wives of Windsor and Hamlet.
Rees' stage credits include The End of the Day, (Obie award) Indiscretions, (Tony nomination) The Misanthrope, and Love's Labours Lost, Cymbeline, and Othello for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Rees garnered Tony and Olivier awards for his performance in Nicholas Nickelby and first appeared at the Roundabout in The Rehearsal.
Director Mayer will be helming his fourth play for the company with Uncle Vanya. His previous three productions include last year's Tony winning Best New Play, Side Man, the Tony winning revival of A View From the Bridge and The Lion in Winter starring Laurence Fishburne and Stockard Channing. Mayer's credits also include Triumph of Love, Stupid Kids, and You're a Good Man Charlie Brown.
Written in 1897, Uncle Vanya was first produced over the next year in provincial Russian theatres before opening at the Moscow Art Theatre on October 26, 1899. This Poulton translation was produced in Chichester with Sir Derek Jacobi in the title role before moving to London's West End.
As reported earlier, the Roundabout Theatre Company moved its production of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya to the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in time to meet this season's Tony Award eligibility deadline. Roundabout's long- anticipated collaboration with Sir Derek Jacobi had been planned as the first production to appear at the nonprofit's new home, the soon-to-be completed American Airlines Theatre. That plan was scrapped and another theatre chosen for the show when construction delays at the American Airlines Theatre looked as though they might threaten Vanya's Tony eligibility.
There had been two other delays to the start of the Uncle Vanya run, and while they were not significant or extraordinary in terms of typical construction schedules, they no doubt put pressure on artistic director Todd Haimes, who has told reporters that he had been trying to get Jacobi to the theatre for years.
In an earlier statement announcing the theatre change, Haimes said, "It would be devastating to the creative team and acting company if a construction delay at the American Airlines Theatre caused us to miss the season cut off."
The production team for Vanya comprises set and costume designer Tony Walton, lighting designer Kenneth Posner and sound designer Mark Bennet.
Tickets for Uncle Vanya at the Brooks Atkinson range $35-$65. The Brooks Atkinson is located at 256 West 47th Street. For tickets call TicketMaster at (212) 307-4100.