By Kenneth Jones
and Robert Simonson
07 Feb 2002
The Daniel Sullivan-directed I'm Not Rappaport revival starring Judd Hirsch and Ben Vereen plays the last of its three engagements in regional nonprofit houses Feb. 20-March 24 at Paper Mill: The State Theatre of New Jersey, prior to an expected run on Broadway this spring.
As of Feb 7, no official announcement of a Broadway booking of the Herb Gardner comedy was made, but producer Liz McCann is attached to the staging and industry reports have suggested a late April opening perhaps at the Booth Theatre (following the limited engagement of Bea Arthur's solo show, which ends March 10). McCann told Playbill On-Line some kind of announcement was expected Feb. 8, and did not comment further.
The revival of the Tony Award-winning 1985 comedy played Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami Jan. 1-20, and is currently playing Washington, DC's Ford's Theater through Feb 17.
"The idea," director Sullivan told Playbill On-Line Jan. 16, is "that we would come in in April sometime, after the Paper Mill production, at a Broadway house. A lot of this has to do with theatre availability."
Sullivan and Hirsch reunite as collaborators on the seriocomic 1985 play (originally seen in 1984 at Seatle Repertory Theatre) about two seniors who meet in Central Park in 1982 and confront a changing world — embodied by drug dealers, punks, an angry daughter and an ex-boss. Hirsch won the 1986 Tony Award for playing crusty socialist Nat. Vereen, who plays Midge, is known for his Tony Award-winning turn in Pippin, plus his recent work in Fosse on Broadway.
Talking about how Vereen came to be cast, Sullivan said, "I know Herb and I had talked about Ben several times. Herb had seen Ben do it in San Francisco. I had not. It was a separate production. And Herb had good memories of that. So we got together and read the first act. I thought that was a really good actor there.... Ben is very detailed. It's all very psychologically based. You wouldn't know at all that there is a song and dance man there. He's completely submerged into the character."
Gardner won the 1986 Best Play Tony Award for I'm Not Rappaport. Also recreating their 1985 work are designers Tony Walton (set) and Tony-winner for Rappaport Pat Collins (lighting).
Director Sullivan won the Best Director Tony Award in 2001 for Broadway's Proof.. The cast includes Anthony Arkin (Danforth), Mimi Lieber (Clara), Steven Boyer (Gilley), Jeb Brown (Cowboy), Tanya Clarke (Laurie).
Sound designers are Duncan Robert Edwards and David F. Shapiro. Theresa Snider-Stein is costume designer.
Tickets at Paper Mill, in Millburn, NJ, range $29-$59. For Paper Mill information, call (973) 376-4343.