Broadway Engagement of Clybourne Park Loses Two Powerful Producers

Producers Scott Rudin and Stuart Thompson are no longer attached to a planned spring Broadway move of Bruce Norris' Clybourne Park, the Pulitzer Prize-winning play about the personalities involved in the 50-year racial history of an American suburb.

Crystal A. Dickinson and Annie Parisse in the 2010 Off-Broadway production of Clybourne Park.
Crystal A. Dickinson and Annie Parisse in the 2010 Off-Broadway production of Clybourne Park. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

The acclaimed play, a riff on Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, was announced for an April 12 opening at the Walter Kerr Theatre, a Jujamcyn Theaters venue. A complete producing team (including Rudin and Thompson) had not been made public when the Broadway engagement was first announced, nor was a first-preview date, but it was known that Center Theatre Group and Lincoln Center Theater were among the other participants in the Broadway engagement.

The loss of the Tony Award-winning lead producers Rudin and Thompson ( The Book of Mormon) leaves the production (currently playing at CTG's Mark Taper Forum) in limbo as of Feb. 1, when news of the change first surfaced in the New York Post.

It was not immediately clear if the production could be saved by other producers, but discussions are happening, has learned.

The Post reported that after Norris — who is also an actor — pulled out of Rudin's HBO series based on Jonathan Frazen's novel "The Corrections," Rudin withdrew from Clybourne Park.

Through his agent, Norris released this statement on Feb. 1: "Jonathan Franzen, Noah Baumbach and Scott Rudin are three of the most talented people working today, and I was honored to be considered for 'The Corrections,' which I'm sure will be a fantastic and successful series. At this moment, however, I feel my priority needs to be writing rather than acting, and so I've declined, regretfully, to join them on the project. I wish all success to all the various parties involved and hope to cross paths with them again in the future." The press agent previously attached to the planned Broadway run of Clybourne Park is no longer involved.

Clybourne Park had its world premiere in 2010 at Off-Broadway's Playwrights Horizons, where Pam MacKinnon directed a cast that included Crystal A. Dickinson, Brendan Griffin, Damon Gupton, Christina Kirk, Annie Parisse, Jeremy Shamos and Frank Wood. The director and cast reunited for the current Mark Taper run that was aiming for Broadway.

In spring 2011, the play won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It has surfaced in independent productions in American regional theatres and had a lauded production in London, where it won the Olivier Award as Best New Play.

In Clybourne Park, according to production notes, "Norris imagines the history of one of the more important houses in literary history, both before and after it becomes a focal point in Lorraine Hansberry's classic A Raisin in the Sun," according to previous press notes. "In 1959, the house, which is located in a white neighborhood at 406 Clybourne St. in Chicago, is sold to an African-American family (the Younger family in A Raisin in the Sun). Then in 2009 after the neighborhood has changed into an African-American community, the house is sold to a white couple. It is through this prism of property ownership that Norris' lacerating sense of humor dissects race relations and middle class hypocrisies in America."

The Broadway-aimed Clybourne Park features scenic design by Daniel Ostling, costume design by Ilona Somogyi, lighting design by Allen Lee Hughes and sound design by John Gromada. The production stage manager is C.A. Clark.

Other plays by Bruce Norris include The Infidel (2000), Purple Heart (2002), We All Went Down to Amsterdam (2003 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work), The Pain and the Itch (2004 Jefferson Award) and The Unmentionables (2006), all of which premiered at Steppenwolf Theatre. He is the recipient of the 2009 Steinberg Playwright Award, the Whiting Foundation Prize for Drama, and the Kesselring Prize, Honorable Mention.

Walter Kerr Theatre is located at 219 West 48th Street.

Christina Kirk, Jeremy Shamos, Annie Parisse, Brendan Griffin, Damon Gupton and Crystal A. Dickinson
Christina Kirk, Jeremy Shamos, Annie Parisse, Brendan Griffin, Damon Gupton and Crystal A. Dickinson