"A Weekend in the Country": Starry Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike Opens on Broadway March 14

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14 Mar 2013

Shalita Grant and Kristine Nielsen
Shalita Grant and Kristine Nielsen
T. Charles Erickson

Following a critically embraced Off-Broadway run, Christopher Durang's Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which whips Chekhov's dramatic themes into an evening of existential American comedy, officially opens on Broadway March 14 at the John Golden Theatre.

Nicholas Martin, who also helmed Durang's Why Torture Is Wrong and Betty's Summer Vacation, directs the production that had its world premiere at the McCarter Theatre Center in New Jersey earlier this fall, prior to a New York run that opened Off-Broadway Nov. 12, 2012, at Lincoln Center Theater's Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater.

Critics and audiences responded warmly to the farce that weaves themes from Russian playwright Anton Chekhov's catalogue into a weekend of costumes, prophecies and existential longing. The limited 17-week engagement began previews March 5 and will continue through June 30. 

"I've been saying that I take Chekhov scenes and characters and put them into a blender. It's my hope you don't have to know Chekhov super-well to enjoy it," Durang told Playbill in a previous interview. "The play, I do want to say, is a comedy — in an American way. Some of it ends up a little better than you might think for Chekhov. Now that I'm older, I don't like sending people home feeling too despairing, so, maybe for my own sake, I like to cheer things up a bit." Read more here.

The cast features three-time Oscar nominee Sigourney Weaver ("Working Girl" "Alien"), a veteran of Durang's Sex and Longing, Crazy Mary, Beyond Therapy; and Durang favorite, Obie Award winner Kristine Nielsen, who appeared in Betty’s Summer Vacation and Why Torture Is Wrong and The People Who Love Them.

Also starring are Tony and Emmy Award winner David Hyde Pierce (Curtains, Spamalot, "Frasier"), Genevieve Angelson ("Army Wives"), Shalita Grant (The Merchant of Venice at Shakespeare in the Park) and Billy Magnussen (The Ritz, "Boardwalk Empire").

Sigourney Weaver
photo by T. Charles Erickson

Here's how it's billed: "Riffing on some of Anton Chekov's most time-tested themes, Christopher Durang proves in his hysterically funny and surprisingly affecting new romp, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, that whether you're in 19th Century Russia or 21st Century Pennsylvania, the human condition never changes. Vanya (Pierce) and Sonia (Nielsen) have never left the confines of their childhood home – a rambling farmhouse in Bucks County, PA – while having to witness the glamorous exploits of their sister, Masha (Weaver), a famous movie actress, from afar. A surprise visit from Masha and her 20-something boy toy, Spike (Magnussen), throws the normally quiet household int0 utter upheaval as its residents and visitors get swept up in an intoxicating mixture of lust, rivalry, regret, and the sudden possibility of escape. Only one thing is certain: no one will get out of this without looking absolutely ridiculous!"

The creative team also includes set designer David Korins, costume designer Emily Rebholz, lighting designer Justin Townsend, composer of original music and sound designer Mark Bennett.

Durang's plays include A History of the American Film (Tony nomination), Sister Mary Explains It All For You (Obie Award), Beyond Therapy, Baby With The Bathwater, The Marriage of Bette and Boo (Obie Award and Guild Hull Warriner Award), Sex and Longing, Laughing Wild, Betty's Summer Vacation (Obie Award), Miss Witherspoon (produced by McCarter Theatre Center, 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist) and, most recently, Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them.

The Broadway run is produced by Joey Parnes, Larry Hirschhorn, Joan Raffe/Jhett Tolentino, Martin Platt & David Elliott, Pat Flicker Addiss, Catherine Adler, John O’Boyle, Joshua Goodman, Jamie DeRoy/Richard Winkler, Cricket Hooper Jiranek/Michael Palitz, Mark S. Golub & David S. Golub, Radio Mouse Entertainment, Shadowcatcher Entertainment, Mary Cossette/Barbara Manocherian, Megan Savage/Meredith Lynsey Schade, Hugh Hysell/Richard Jordan, Cheryl Wiesenfeld/Ron Simons, S.D. Wagner, and John Johnson, in association with The McCarter Theatre Center and Lincoln Center Theater.

For tickets visit Telecharge.com. The Golden Theatre is located at 252 West 45th Street. 


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Sigourney Weaver, Genevieve Angelson and David Hyde Pierce
Photo by T. Charles Erickson