Broadway's Hit Seagull Folds Its Wings on Schedule Dec. 21

By Kenneth Jones
and Andrew Gans
21 Dec 2008

Peter Sarsgaard and Carey Mulligan in The Seagull.
Peter Sarsgaard and Carey Mulligan in The Seagull.
Photo by Joan Marcus

The Broadway run of director Ian Rickson's acclaimed Royal Court Theatre production of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull ends its limited run on schedule Dec. 21.

Producers of Christopher Hampton's new translation of the famous Russian play about the hopes, insecurities, regrets and passions of a mix of acclaimed and unsuccessful actors and writers recouped their investment Dec. 8.

The production, topped by Kristin Scott Thomas as diva Arkadina, is now appearing on critics' Top Ten lists for the 2008 year in theatre, and is expected to be remembered at Tony Awards time in spring 2009. By close, the staging will have played 18 previews and 93 performances in New York.

The production's financial success once again underlined the viability and wisdom of a new trend: creating a limited run — of a known title featuring marquee-value stars — to stimulate audience interest. The Seagull scheduled run was 14 weeks. The current limited run of All My Sons starring John Lithgow also recouped. It closes as scheduled in January.

The Seagull opened at Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre Oct. 2 after previews from Sept. 16.



Producer Sonia Friedman previously stated, "My fellow producers and I are tremendously proud of Ian Rickson's exquisite production and this extraordinarily talented and sublime acting company. New York audiences have been wonderful and proved that it's possible for Chekhov to be a commercial success on Broadway, which is a huge achievement for all concerned."

The Seagull also stars Peter Sarsgaard as Trigorin. He now heads to rehearsals for an Off-Broadway production of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya at Classic Stage Company, opening in January 2009.

Critics were impressed by the clarity of Hampton's translation of the Russian play, and by what many called the luminous Broadway debut of an actress named Carey Mulligan as yearning actress Nina, whose tears throughout the play seemed to signal joy and pain at once.

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Rickson's production of The Seagull, which played a January-March 2007 run at London's Royal Court, featured Scott Thomas, who won an Olivier Award for her work as selfish mother-actress Arkadina. On Broadway, she was joined by Sarsgaard, making his Broadway debut, as Trigorin, plus members of the original Royal Court Theatre cast, including Mackenzie Crook (of the British series "The Office") as novice writer-director Konstantin (Arkadina's son), Art Malik as Dorn, Pearce Quigley as Medvedenko, Peter Wight as Sorin, Christopher Patrick Nolan as Yakov and Mary Rose as the Maid with newcomers to the production Zoe Kazan as Masha, Ann Dowd as Polina and Julian Gamble as Shamrayev.

Art Malik and Zoe Kazan
photo by Joan Marcus
Chekhov wrote The Seagull in 1895. The play, according to production notes, concerns "the romantic entanglements and regrets of a group of actors, writers and artists gathered on a Russian estate. One of the theatre's great plays about writing, The Seagull conveys the struggle for new forms and the frustrations and fulfillment of putting words on a page."

The production features designs by Hildegard Bechtler, lighting by Peter Mumford, sound by Ian Dickinson and music by Stephen Warbeck.

Thomas won the 2007 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance as Arkadina in The Seagull. She received an Academy Award nomination for her performance in "The English Patient" and has also been seen in "Four Weddings and a Funeral," "Gosford Park," "Random Hearts," "Life as a House," "The Horse Whisperer," "Angels and Insects," "The Other Boleyn Girl" and "The Walker" as well as "Easy Virtue," "Confessions of a Shopaholic" and (the acclaimed 2008 film "I've Loved You So Long").

Sarsgaard made his screen debut in "Dead Man Walking" and has since appeared in "Kinsey," "Shattered Glass" (National Society of Film Critics Award), "Garden State," "Boys Don't Cry," "Rendition," "The Dying Gaul," "Jarhead," "The Skeleton Key," "Flightplan," "Year of the Dog" and the upcoming "In the Electric Mist," "Orphan," "Elegy," "An Education" and "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh." He trained at the Actor's Studio and appeared Off-Broadway in Signature Theatre's production of Burn This and Laura Dennis and Drama Dept.'s Kingdom of Earth.

The Seagull is produced on Broadway by Sonia Friedman Productions, Bob Boyett, Robert G. Bartner, Dede Harris, Norman & Steven Tulchin, Fox Theatricals, Dena Hammerstein, Sharon Karmazin, Olympus Theatricals, Spring Sirkin, Tara Smith, Morton Swinsky, Karl Sydow, The Weinstein Company, Falkenstein/deRoy, Florin/Hirschhorn and Gutterman/McGinn.

Visit www.SeagullThePlay.com.