Richard Eyre's revival of Arthur Miller's The Crucible will begin previews Feb. 16 at the Virginia Theatre, with an opening set for March 7. As previously reported, Laura Linney will play the prudish wife of Liam Neeson's John Proctor in the production, which will also feature the ubiquitous Brian Murray (The Play About the Baby, the upcoming Hobson's Choice).
Also confirmed for the cast are Anne Pitoniak (currently in Dance of Death) and John Benjamin Hickey (Love! Valour! Compassion!). Director Eyre will be flying in to New York to complete casting, expected before the end of the month. As reported in Theatrical Index and confirmed by the Richard Kornberg office, designing The Crucible are Paul Gallo (lighting) and Tim Hatley (sets and costumes).
Actress Linney has been a common fixture on the New York stage since first attracting attention as Nina in a modernized downtown Seagull and playing an aggressive German journalist in Donald Margulies' Sight Unseen. But her currency as an actress increased manyfold last year due to her many-faceted, Oscar-nominated performance as a single mom dealing with a wastrel brother in Kenneth Lonergan's film "You Can Count on Me." Linney's most recent stage turn was as Yelena in the Roundabout Theatre Company's Uncle Vanya on Broadway. She has also appeared on Broadway in Holiday and The Seagull (as Nina).
Over the past several years, Murray has done three-to-four productions a season, including stints in Uncle Vanya, Entertaining Mr. Sloan, Racing Demon, Travels With My Aunt (Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards), A Small Family Business, the original Noises Off (Drama Desk Award), Black Comedy, Da Sleuth, All in Good Time, and Peter Brook's Royal Shakespeare Company production of King Lear.
Director Eyre told Playbill On-Line (July 30) rehearsals would begin Jan. 7 for the David Richenthal-produced venture. Eyre, former head of the UK's Royal National Theatre, has recently written a book and created a TV miniseries about 20th century Western theatre. *
News that David Richenthal, the producer who brought Miller's Death of a Salesman and The Price to Broadway in the past two years, was hoping to revive Miller's 1953 parable, The Crucible, for Broadway, first broke last October. The drama will play a 15-week limited run on Broadway. Neeson, last seen on Broadway in David Hare's Judas Kiss, will play John Proctor.
Richenthal has become a one-man Miller industry in the past few years, backing Broadway revivals of Death of a Salesman (directed by Robert Falls) and The Price (directed by James Naughton). He is also behind a projected revival of O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night, which will bow at Chicago's Goodman Theatre in February 2002, with Robert Falls directing Brian Dennehy, and then move to Broadway.
The Crucible, written in reaction to the McCarthy witch hunts of the 1950s, tells of leaders in puritannical Salem overreacting to a rash of phony mass hysteria in its young women.