Billy Magnussen Will Exit Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

By Adam Hetrick
31 Jul 2013

Billy Magnussen
Billy Magnussen

Tony Award nominee Billy Magnussen, who created the role of daffy beefcake Spike in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, will depart the Tony Award-winning comedy Aug. 4.

Magnussen originated the role of Spike in the Christopher Durang comedy that premiered at the McCarter Theatre Center in New Jersey in 2012 and repeated his work in the Off-Broadway run at Lincoln Center Theater and the subsequent Broadway engagement.

Magnussen received a Featured Actor in a Play Tony Award nomination for his work. 

The actor discussed his Tony nomination and stripping down for Broadway audiences with Playbill.com. Read that feature here. 



Actor Creed Garnick, who has understudied Magnussen during the run, will assume the role of Spike through the duration of the play's extended Broadway run, which continues through Aug. 25.

Magnussen has been reported to be in negotiations for the upcoming film adaptation of Into the Woods, which begins filming in London in September. His fellow original co-star, Academy Award nominee Sigourney Weaver, played her final role in Vanya and Sonia... July 28. Tony Award winner Julie White (The Little Dog Laughed) took over the role of Masha.

Durang's farce weaves themes from Russian playwright Anton Chekhov's catalogue into a weekend of costumes, prophecies and existential longing. The play began Broadway previews March 5 and officially opened March 14. 

The play received six Tony Award nominations and won for Best Play. Cast members Kristine Nielsen, David Hyde Pierce, Shalita Grant and Magnussen were also Tony-nominated, as was director Nicholas Martin. Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike was also honored this season with the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Broadway Play.

The cast features Obie Award winner Nielsen (Betty’s Summer VacationWhy Torture Is Wrong and The People Who Love Them) as Sonia, Tony and Emmy Award winner Pierce (Curtains, Spamalot, "Frasier") as Vanya, Liesel Allen Yeager as Nina, Grant (The Merchant of Venice at Shakespeare in the Park) as Cassandra.

Here's how it's billed: "Riffing on some of Anton Chekov's most time-tested themes, Christopher Durang proves in his hysterically funny and surprisingly affecting new romp, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, that whether you're in 19th Century Russia or 21st Century Pennsylvania, the human condition never changes. Vanya (Pierce) and Sonia (Nielsen) have never left the confines of their childhood home – a rambling farmhouse in Bucks County, PA – while having to witness the glamorous exploits of their sister, Masha (White), a famous movie actress, from afar. A surprise visit from Masha and her 20-something boy toy, Spike (Magnussen), throws the normally quiet household int0 utter upheaval as its residents and visitors get swept up in an intoxicating mixture of lust, rivalry, regret, and the sudden possibility of escape. Only one thing is certain: no one will get out of this without looking absolutely ridiculous!"

The creative team also includes set designer David Korins, costume designer Emily Rebholz, lighting designer Justin Townsend, composer of original music and sound designer Mark Bennett.

Durang's plays include A History of the American Film (Tony nomination), Sister Mary Explains It All For You (Obie Award), Beyond Therapy, Baby With The Bathwater, The Marriage of Bette and Boo (Obie Award and Guild Hull Warriner Award), Sex and Longing, Laughing Wild, Betty's Summer Vacation (Obie Award), Miss Witherspoon (produced by McCarter Theatre Center, 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist) and, most recently, Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them.

The Broadway run is produced by Joey Parnes, Larry Hirschhorn, Joan Raffe/Jhett Tolentino, Martin Platt & David Elliott, Pat Flicker Addiss, Catherine Adler, John O’Boyle, Joshua Goodman, Jamie DeRoy/Richard Winkler, Cricket Hooper Jiranek/Michael Palitz, Mark S. Golub & David S. Golub, Radio Mouse Entertainment, Shadowcatcher Entertainment, Mary Cossette/Barbara Manocherian, Megan Savage/Meredith Lynsey Schade, Hugh Hysell/Richard Jordan, Cheryl Wiesenfeld/Ron Simons, S.D. Wagner, and John Johnson, in association with The McCarter Theatre Center and Lincoln Center Theater.

For tickets visit Telecharge.com. The Golden Theatre is located at 252 West 45th Street. 

View highlights from the production below: