By Murdoch McBride
05 Mar 2000
The well-received revival of Arthur Miller's drama The Price closes March 5 at the Royale Theatre. While this marks the last date Broadway audiences can see the show, the cast will perform a special additional show to benefit the Actors' Fund on March 5 ,at 7:30, at the Royale, directly after the drama's official last performance.
The Shubert Organization, which owns the Royale Theatre, earlier invoked the stop clause on the Broadway revival when sales figures fell below a certain level. At that time, weekly reports from the League of American Theatres and Producers indicated that the drama was operating at roughly 51 percent capacity. The Price has rebounded since and is running at close to 75 percent capacity in its last week.
Michael Frayn's Copenhagen will go into the Royale, with previews starting March 23. Copenhagen will open April 11.
Only three straight plays are currently running on Broadway, Noel Coward's Waiting in the Wings, Sam Shephard's True West and Peter Shaffer's Amadeus. Other productions that are either non musical or not strictly musical include the one-person shows by Jackie Mason (Much Ado About Everything) and Barry Humphries as Dame Edna in Dame Edna: The Royal Tour).
As reported earlier, the summer revival of Arthur Miller's The Price at the Williamstown Theatre Festival opened its autumn run at Broadway's Royale Theatre Nov. 15, 1999. The Williamstown revival of Miller's play ran Aug. 18-29 at the fest's Main Stage. On Broadway, The Price will have played 20 previews and 128 regular performances.
The 1967 tale of two brothers rooting through their dead father's belongings, directed by James Naughton, stars the same cast seen at the Massachusetts fest -- Jeffrey DeMunn, Bob Dishy, Lizbeth Mackay and Harris Yulin.
Recreating their festival designs for Broadway are Michael Brown (set), Laurie Churba (costume), Rui Rita (lighting) and Jerry Yager (sound).
The play deals in Miller's strong suit: Shuffling through the emotional detritus of sibling rivalry, responsibility and familial bitterness. When the siblings reunite, the poor policeman brother, Victor (DeMunn), who stayed attached to the family, upbraids his rich doctor brother (Yulin), who abandoned their father. Dishy plays an aged furniture dealer, while Mackay is Victor's wife.
Producer David Richenthal said the staging he saw at the Williamstown Festival was so tight that it prompted him to take on the idea of a Broadway remount as the sole producer (a Broadway rarity).
"This is a hugely-underrated play of Arthur's," Richenthal told Playbill On Line. "It's in the family of Salesman and View From the Bridge and All My Sons. What it needs is to be played by a string quartet -- otherwise it doesn't sing." Richenthal was one of the producers of Broadway's recent revival of Death of a Salesman, which closed Nov. 7 at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre.
The play's examination of siblings in relation to their lost parents is one of the factors that attracted Richenthal: "I do have siblings," he said, "and this does for siblings what Salesman does for fathers and sons, although this play also speaks to parenting."
A previous Broadway revival of The Price was staged by the Roundabout Theatre Company (at the Criterion Center) in 1992-93. Directed by John Tillinger, it starred Hector Elizondo, Eli Wallach, Debra Mooney and Joe Spano. It was nominated for the Best Revival Tony Award.
Pat Hingle and Arthur Kennedy played the brothers in the Broadway original in the 1967-68 season. Miller was nominated for a 1968 Tony Award for his play, but the prize went to Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
As part of a series of special Broadway performances benefiting the Actors' Fund in February and March, the cast and crews of The Price join their peers from Kiss Me Kate and Saturday Night Fever to donate their time for the Sunday evening shows, all of which will benefit the Actors' Fund. The remaining schedule is as follows: March 5 at 7:30 PM, The Price; March 12 at 8 PM, Kiss Me Kate; and March 19 at 8 PM, Saturday Night Fever.
Tickets for regular performances of The Price range from $40- $65. The special benefit show on March 5 is intended for the performers peers' in the entertainment industry. Tickets are available by calling (212) 221 7300 or (800) 386-3849, ext. 133/134. Other Actors' Fund special performances are expected to be announced in coming days.The Royale is located at 242 West 45th Street. For tickets call Telecharge at (212) 239-6200.