John Grisham, the author of countless legal thrillers, long ago conquered the best-seller list with titles like "The Firm," "The Pelican Brief," "The Client" and "The Rainmaker." He subsequently mastered Hollywood, as many of those page-turners were transformed into popular movies. But can the man who has sold more than 250 million books worldwide slay Broadway?
The world will find out this fall, when A Time to Kill, Grisham's debut effort, becomes the writer's first book to be adapted into a stage play. The 1989 novel — about an idealistic Southern lawyer defending a black man who has taken the law into his own hands in answer to an unspeakable crime committed against his daughter — has been placed in the capable hands of playwright Rupert Holmes, who has written a few thrillers himself, both for the stage and the page. Ethan McSweeny directs a formidable cast, headed by Sebastian Arcelus, and also starring Patrick Page, Tonya Pinkins and Fred Dalton Thompson, who, like Grisham, has worn many hats over the years, including actor, attorney and politician. He may very well be the only presidential candidate to ever appear in a Broadway play. Previews begin Sept. 28 at the Golden Theatre.
A Time to Kill is the sole commercial production of a new play on Broadway this autumn. The only other fresh work comes courtesy of Manhattan Theatre Club, which will present Sharr White's The Snow Geese at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre beginning Oct. 1. The World War I-set drama is the vehicle of actress Mary-Louise Parker's first return to the Broadway boards in nearly five years. The cast also includes Danny Burstein and Victoria Clark. Daniel Sullivan, who directed Parker to glory in Proof, will stage the tale of newly widowed Elizabeth Gaesling (Parker), who grapples with life-changing issues concerning her two sons, while gathering her family for their annual shooting party in upstate New York.
The London stage will be lacking a goodly number of its best actors, as they bring their talents to Broadway — many of them in plays by their fellow countrymen. Not the least of these scribblers is the Swan of Avon. Shakespeare will own the byline on four of this fall's attractions. Two of those will star Mark Rylance, the British-born, American-raised, British-trained actor whose artistic home lies somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic. The multiple Tony Award winner, who remains as ambitious as he was during his days manning London's Globe Theatre, will star in both Richard III, as the title beast, and Twelfth Night, as love-struck noblewoman Olivia. The two will run in repertory at the Belasco, beginning Oct. 15.
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