Broadway may be a relatively inhospitable place for American playwrights, but it's been big business for Brits this season. David Hare opened three shows (The Blue Room, Amy's View, Via Dolorosa), while commercial playwrights Pam Gems and Emlyn Williams are jockeying for audiences with the fringe up-n-comers Conor McPherson and Patrick Marber. But the most unprecedented success story has to be Martin McDonagh, whose The Beauty Queen of Leenane ended its yearlong Broadway run just weeks ago and who now has another play, The Lonesome West, starting previews at the Lyceum Theatre April 19.
The Lyceum box office opens April 5 -- the last week of performances for National Actors Theatre's Night Must Fall before that show moves to the smaller Helen Hayes Theatre for an open commercial run.
Steven Levy and Randall L. Wreghitt are producing The Lonesome West -- part of McDonagh's "Leenane" trilogy -- on Broadway. McDonagh's drama would have to open on or before April 28 to qualify for this year's Tonys; Lonesome will open April 27.
Two of the prolific McDonagh's plays have thus far made the trip across the Atlantic. The Beauty Queen of Leenane debuted at the Atlantic Theatre Company in early 1998 and quickly transferred to Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre. Nominated for a best play Tony (Art won), the show did capture several acting Tonys and a win for Irish director Garry Hynes, who is also staging Lonesome West. She had already staged West in London back in 1997 with her Druid Theatre Company. That cast has made the Atlantic transfer intact: Dawn Bradfield, David Ganly, Brian F. O'Byrne (a Tony nominee for Leenane) and Maeliosa Stafford.
The designers for Beauty Queen will also take part in West: Francis O'Connor (sets/costumes) and Ben Ormerod (lighting). Tharon Musser is the lighting designer. McDonagh's The Cripple of Inishmaan opened with less success in the spring of 1998 at the Public Theatre. That play, like Leenane, is starting to receive numerous regional productions.
Lonesome West is part of the playwright's "Leenane" trilogy, which also includes A Skull in Connemara. According to the Boneau/Bryan Brown press office, Lonesome West studies bickering brothers who spar over everything "from snack foods to hairstyles." Into this maelstrom step a tough but lovestruck teen and a lonely priest who tries to make peace.
For tickets and information on The Lonesome West call (212) 239 6200.