By Robert Simonson
25 Jan 2005
|Photo by Joan Marcus|
It will have played 15 preview and 72 regular performances.
Previews began Nov. 23, 2004, for the Carole Shorenstein Hays production. Opening was Dec. 6. Hays, whose credits include Take Me Out and Caroline, or Change, is the angel producer who saved the once-imperiled Broadway venture.
A possible new resident at the Kerr is John Patrick Shanley's Doubt, which has been looking for a Broadway home since winning great reviews last fall. Hays is also backing that show.
The Gem staging stars last season's Tony Award-winner, Phylicia Rashad (A Raisin in the Sun), as Aunt Ester, Ruben Santiago-Hudson as Caesar and LisaGay Hamilton as Black Mary. The cast also features John Earl Jelks as Citizen Barlow and Raynor Scheine as Rutherford Selig. Kenny Leon directs.
Gem of the Ocean, which struggled last fall to replace a shortfall in its $2 million production budget, cancelled its Nov. 4-21 performances.
Rocco Landesman, president of Jujamcyn Theatres, told the New York Times that the deal to save the show happened because his company and Hays received concessions from vendors and creative personnel.
The trouble began late in October, when a major investor pulled out of the venture, taking an unspecified chunk of the $2 million capitalization with them. The unexpected loss of cash sent original lead producer Benjamin Mordecai in search of new investors. Meanwhile, the load-in of the production's set into Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre was delayed, and a new marquee remained unhung.
Gem ended a Boston run on Oct. 30. It was to have begun previews at the Walter Kerr Theatre on Nov. 4 and open Nov. 11.
Wilson's many other works include Fences, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Seven Guitars, Two Trains Running, The Piano Lesson, King Hedley II and Jitney.