By Robert Simonson
18 Jan 2001
Byron Jennings, Paul Hecht and Mark Nelson have joined the already announced Robert Sean Leonard and Richard Easton in the Broadway production of Tom Stoppard’s drama, The Invention of Love. The Lincoln Center Theater venture is set to start previews March 1 and open March 29 at the Lyceum Theatre. Directing is Jack O’Brien.
Jennings appeared last year in U.S premiere of Waste at Theatre for a New Audience and The Man Who Came to Dinner at the Roundabout Theatre Company. Hecht was last seen in New York in Arthur Laurents' The Big Potato. Nelson's many credits include Einstein in Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapine Agile.
Also in the cast are Daniel Davis, Mireille Enos, David Harbour, Brian Hutchison, Andrew McGinn, Peter McRobbie, Matthew Floyd Miller, Guy Paul, Martin Rayner, Peter A. Smith, Michael Stuhlbarg, David Turner and Jeff Weiss.
The Invention of Love has as its central character 19th-century English poet A.E. Housman (1859-1936). Stoppard's story begins with Housman, old and infirm, dreaming he is dead and being ferried across the river Styx by the mythical boatman Charon. Houseman is best known for his collection of poems titled "A Shropshire Lad." Through his work, according to Invention of Love production notes, he expressed his lifelong unrequited passion for a fellow student at Oxford, Moses Jackson. Robert Sean Leonard and Richard Easton will play Housman young and old, respectively.
Leonard is a Broadway and Off-Broadway regular. His credits include Arcadia, Philadelphia, Here I Come! and The Iceman Cometh.
The play had its U.S. premiere at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco last fall, with James Cromwell in the Houseman role. [See PBOL's "Brief Encounter" with Cromwell.] It then played Philadelphia's Wilma Theatre. Paxton Whitehead played Houseman at the Court Theatre in Chicago this past October.
LCT has a history of introducing Stoppard's work to New York audiences. The theatre has hosted the Gotham premieres of Arcadia and Hapgood. Jack O'Brien directed the latter and will also pilot Invention; he’s currently riding high on the critical and box office of strength of The Full Monty. Bob Crowley will provide costume and scenic design.