Off-Broadway's Cymbeline Will Work Its Magic in Added Performances, Into 2012

By Kenneth Jones
27 Dec 2011

Ben Steinfeld and Jessie Austrian
Ben Steinfeld and Jessie Austrian
Photo by Gerry Goodstein

Fiasco Theater's acclaimed, six-person production of Shakespeare's late-career play Cymbeline has been extended two weeks, now to Jan. 15, 2012, at Off-Broadway's Barrow Street Theatre in Greenwich Village.

The frisky production, reveling in multiple casting, had been scheduled to close Jan. 1, "but surging ticket demand and a little juggling of schedules, has given the show another two weeks to entertain audiences of all ages," according to producers.

Co-directed by Fiasco Theater's Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld, Cymbeline, often billed as a fairy tale, is presented by Theatre for a New Audience (Jeffrey Horowitz, artistic director), Scott Morfee, Jean Doumanian and Tom Wirtshafter. Cymbeline's 14 roles are performed by the original company, including Jessie Austrian, Paul L. Coffey, Andy Grotelueschen, Emily Young, Brody and Steinfeld.

Evening performances New Year's week are at 7:30 PM Dec. 27-30 and Jan. 1. Matinees are 2:30 PM Dec. 28; Dec. 30; and Jan. 1. There is no performance New Year's Eve.



Beginning Jan. 3, Cymbeline returns to its regular performance schedule: Tuesday through Friday at 7:30 PM, Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 PM & 7:30 PM through Jan. 15.

Tickets are $75 and may be purchased by phone at (212) 868-4444 or at www.smarttix.com or in person at the Barrow Street Theatre box office, 27 Barrow Street (on the corner of Seventh Avenue, one block south of Christopher Street). The box office opens at 1 PM daily.

Student tickets at $20 are available on the day of performance only at the box office, cash only, based on availability. For group sales, email boxoffice@barrowstreettheatre.com.

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Fiasco Theater's small-cast revival of Cymbeline, acclaimed for its run at midtown's New Victory Theatre earlier this year, returned for a commercial engagement that opened Sept. 8 following previews from Aug. 30 at Barrow Street Theatre in Greenwich Village.

"Six actors and a fabulous trunk [designed by Jacques Roy] take on the 14 roles in one of William Shakespeare's wild and witty romances," according to the producing partners.

Cymbeline "tells of a beautiful princess separated from her beloved, the cruel step-mother who tries to kill her, a credulous husband duped by an adversary, an exiled nobleman who kidnaps a king's sons and a Roman invasion of Britain," according to TFANA. "In this lightning-paced production, a plain white cloth becomes a sail, a bed sheet, and a toga and a 'fabulous' trunk becomes a bed, a throne and a cave. The transformations are magical and playful and true to the play, deepening its themes of illusion, deception and belief."

The music created by Fiasco for Cymbeline "contains some of Shakespeare's most haunting lyrics and sets Shakespeare's words to original compositions and traditional sources." Performed live by the company, "the music ranges from Renaissance madrigals to bluegrass and Appalachian folk tunes."

TFANA's Horowitz, searching for the new generation of artists interpreting Shakespeare, saw the production in a 70-seat loft two years ago and has shepherded it along.

"We last produced Cymbeline in 2001 directed by Bartlett Sher," Horowitz said in a statement. "In the Fiasco production, I could see New York through a gritty window while on a bare stage with no production budget and sheer talent and commitment, the company brought the audience into the imaginary world of Shakespeare through the language. I immediately felt a kinship and invited the ensemble to engage with artists we know such as Cicely Berry, director of voice [at] Royal Shakespeare Company and Jean-Guy Lecat, a designer who worked with Peter Brook. I proposed that Theatre for a New Audience collaborate with Fiasco to take the essence of what they created in Cymbeline and develop a new production with new sets and costumes for a wider audience. That team led to an acclaimed sold-out engagement at The New Victory and now an extended commercial run for an even wider audience at the Barrow Street Theatre."

The creative team includes set designer Jean-Guy Lecat; costume designer Whitney Locher; lighting designer Tim Cryan; prop designer Caite Hevner; fight director Noah Brody; music director Ben Steinfeld; and vocal coach Cicely Berry.

John Schaefer of WNYC gave the music an hour of his "Soundcheck" program last winter. It can still be heard on the web.