By Kenneth Jones
10 Jan 2006
In the lauded play by John Patrick Shanley, four-time Tony Award nominee Atkins plays Sister Aloysius, the sharp, steely nun who runs a Bronx Catholic school and suspects a popular priest of misconduct with a male student.
Also on Jan. 10, Ron Eldard (Broadway's On the Waterfront and Death of a Salesman) joins the production as charismatic Father Flynn, and Jena Malone (of the feature film "Pride and Prejudice") starts work as young Sister James, pulled between her colleagues. They are welcomed by Adriane Lenox, who won the 2005 Best Featured Actress Tony Award for playing Mrs. Muller, the mother of the boy.
Cherry Jones (Sister Aloysius), Brian F. O'Byrne (Father Flynn) and Heather Goldenhersh (Sister James) — who originated their roles Off-Broadway in fall 2004 at Manhattan Theatre Club, and then leapt to Broadway where Jones won the Tony and O'Byrne and Goldenhersh were nominated — exited the Broadway production Jan. 8.
Doug Hughes directs the 90-minute John Patrick Shanley play. Shanley, Hughes, the producers and Cherry Jones all won Tony Awards for their work on the bracing drama. The play also won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Frozen veteran O'Byrne's next Broadway assignment will be Conor McPherson's Shining City, for Manhattan Theatre Club, which launched Doubt. Spring performances play MTC's Biltmore.
Queens native Ron Eldard appeared on Broadway in Robert Falls' production of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, with Brian Dennehy (also on Showtime), On the Waterfront, directed by Terry Kinney, and Neil Simon's Biloxi Blues. Off-Broadway credits include Neil LaBute's bash with Calista Flockhart and Paul Rudd (also in Beverly Hills and London), Aven' U Boys, Servy 'n' Bernice 4 Ever, Carrying School Children. His film credits include "Diggers," "Freedomland," "Fathers and Sons," "House of Sand and Fog," "Ghost Ship," "Black Hawk Down," "Just a Kiss," "The Runner," "Mystery, Alaska," "Deep Impact," "Delivered," "Sleepers," "Captive," "The Last Supper," "Scent of a Woman," as well as the TV series, "Blind Justice."
Eldard is a former golden gloves boxer. In the play about possible sexual impropriety, Father Flynn in a sports enthusiast who inspires his young male students.
Jena Malone will make her Broadway debut as Sister James, the young nun caught between the popular priest and a fierce elder sister. Malone stars as Lydia Bennett in the current hit film version of "Pride and Prejudice."
Atkins is one of England's leading actresses, has appeared on New York stages in such plays as The Killing of Sister George (Tony nomination), The Promise, Vivat! Vivat! Regina (Tony nomination), Indiscretions (Tony nomination), The Retreat from Moscow (Tony nomination), A Room of One's Own and Vita and Virginia.
"Set against the backdrop of a Bronx Catholic school in 1964, Doubt is the story of a strong-minded woman faced with a difficult decision," according to producers. "Should she voice concerns about one of her male colleagues…even if she's not entirely certain of the truth?"
Set design is by John Lee Beatty, costume design is by Catherine Zuber, lighting design is by Pat Collins, original music and sound design is by David Van Tieghem.
Doubt is produced by Carole Shorenstein Hays, MTC Productions Inc. (Lynne Meadow, artistic director; Barry Grove, executive producer), Roger Berlind and Scott Rudin.
The Walter Kerr Theatre is at 219 W. 48th Street.
For tickets call Telecharge.com at (212) 239-6200 or visit the Walter Kerr Theatre box office.