PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, March 8-14: Rocky Opens on Broadway, Will Eno Has Two Plays in NYC and MTC Season Take Shape

By Robert Simonson
14 Mar 2014

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Blythe Danner
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Manhattan Theatre Club announced its upcoming season, which is chock full of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights.

Donald Margulies, who has long had a home at MTC, brings the Chekhovian The Country House, which will be directed by Daniel Sullivan and star Blythe Danner as Anna Patterson, "the matriarch of a brood of famous and longing-to-be-famous creative artists who have gathered at their Berkshires summerhouse during the Williamstown Theatre Festival." (Well, they say write what you know, and what playwright doesn't know Williamstown.)

Also in the pipeline is David Auburn's Lost Lake, which will be presented Off-Broadway at New York City Center Stage I. Sullivan will direct this production as well. And, guess what! It also takes place in a country house! "The lakeside rental Veronica has managed to afford is a far cry from the idyllic getaway she and her children so desperately need," goes the plot. "And the disheveled property owner, Hogan, has problems of his own—problems that Veronica is inevitably—and irrevocably—pulled into."



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Over in California, four-time Academy Award nominee Annette Bening will step into the skin of Ruth Draper in the world premiere of Ruth Draper's Monologues at the Geffen Playhouse. Previews will begin April 8 prior to an official opening April 16.

Draper, a star in her day, is largely forgotten today, mainly because her art was so specific to herself. A Society-born woman, she specialized in long, subtle, character-driven monologues—some lightly humorous, some deeply dramatic—which she first performed in drawing rooms, and eventually brought to theatres, to much acclaim.

The production will feature some of Draper's best-known works, including her most famous, The Italian Lesson, about the many whims and distractions of a Park Avenue Grand Dame as she attempts to learn Italian, as well as Doctors and Diets, A Debutante at a Dance and A Class in Greek Poise.

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Shelton Street Theatrical, LLC announced this week that it plans a stage adaptation of the beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Confederacy of Dunces by the late American novelist John Kennedy Toole.

The work has been adapted by playwright Jeffrey Hatcher and will be under the direction of David Esbjornson.

Confederacy is the sole novel by Toole, who, in despair over his failure to become a successful writer, committed suicide before it could get published in 1980. The story follows the picaresque adventures of the smart, but lazy protagonist Ignatius J. Reilly as he looks for a job in 1960s New Orleans.

A series of New York readings, beginning this spring, and developmental productions are planned, with A Confederacy of Dunces aiming to bow on Broadway.

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Also opening this week was the MCC Theater production of Robert Askins' irreverent puppet comedy Hand to God, about a possessed Christian-ministry puppet, at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.

Hand to God played an acclaimed, extended run at the Ensemble Studio Theatre during the 2011-12 season. It is staged by original director Moritz von Stuelpnagel and stars original actors Steven Boyer and Geneva Carr.

Critics hadn't forgotten how much they liked the play. "The irreverent puppetry in Avenue Q is kids' stuff compared with the devil-made-me-do-it depravities in Hand to God," said Newsday, and the Post said, " The show moves at great speed... By the time Hand to God reaches its Grand Guignol finale, you're reeling from shock and laughter."