Cellini started previews Jan. 24 and opened Feb. 12. The play examines Renaissance sculptor Benvenuto Cellini and his attempt to make great art while pleasing his benefactor, Pope Clement VII. Shanley, best known for penning the “Moonstruck” screenplay, has penned such plays as The Big Funk, The Dreamer Examines His Pillow, Psychopathia Sexualis and Danny and the Deep Blue Sea. He's currently in the beginning stages of adapting "Moonstruck" into a Broadway musical.
Rogers was a Tony nominee for his work opposite Laura Linney in an acclaimed Broadway revival of Holiday. His co-stars include Lisa Bansavage, David Chandler, Daniel Oreskes, Lucas Papaelias, Gary Perez, Richard Russell Ramos, Jennifer Roszell and John Gould Rubin.
Designing the show are Martin Pakledinaz (costumes), Brian Nason (lighting), Adrianne Lobel (set) and David Van Tieghem (sound).
Author Shanley told Time Out NY (Jan. 18) he's worked on Cellini for six years. "I think it's a more demanding play than I've ever done before... The struggle an artist goes through is the same struggle everyone goes through, with whatever they choose to do. How much commitment do you have? How honest are you willing to be? How badly do you want to do this?"
Shanley added that those very questions dogged him while revising Cellini after he first staged it at Vassar College. "The play became my autobiography, too," he told Time Out NY. "And then nothing was good enough. The whole play stank, as far as I was concerned. It became a drama about seeing the back of your own head — seeing your own weaknesses, your own braggadocio, your false confidence, your twisted sexuality, your murderous rages." Eventually, Shanley distanced himself from the material and was able to show an artist nearly coming apart in the first and then devoting himself to his craft in the second.
For tickets ($30-$50) and information on Cellini at Second Stage Theatre call (212) 246-4422.
—By Robert Simonson
and David Lefkowitz