Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy of the People, Starring Boyd Gaines at Center of Community Controversy, Opens on Broadway

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27 Sep 2012

Boyd Gaines and Kathleen McNenny
Boyd Gaines and Kathleen McNenny
Photo by Joan Marcus

Manhattan Theatre Club's new Broadway production of An Enemy of the People, adapted by British dramatist Rebecca Lenkiewicz and directed by Tony Award winner Doug Hughes, opens Sept. 27 following previews from Sept. 4 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. Tony winner Boyd Gaines plays the righteous title character, with Richard Thomas as his mayor-brother.

The adaptation of the 1882 Henrik Ibsen classic about a moral voice in a town that doesn't want to hear it also features Gaines' wife, Kathleen McNenny, as Thomas' patient, worried, fierce wife, Catherine, who stands by her man as the both liberal and conservative forces of the town turn against the good doctor. Hughes has dipped into plays with moral issues before, in Doubt, Defiance and The Whipping Man.

According to MTC, "In this fast-paced, two-hour thriller, Dr. Thomas Stockmann (Boyd Gaines) discovers a toxic secret that threatens the health of his entire community. The doctor expects to be hailed as a hero, but his brother, Mayor Peter Stockmann (Richard Thomas), believes the information will destroy the town, forcing the men into a passionate confrontation of political will and personal ethics."

Joining four-time Tony Award winner Gaines (She Loves Me, Contact, The Heidi Chronicles, Gypsy) as title character Dr. Thomas Stockmann and Emmy Award winner Thomas ("The Waltons," Fifth of July) as Mayor Peter Stockmann are Maïté Alina (Broadway debut) as Petra Stockmann, Gerry Bamman (The Merchant of Venice) as Aslaksen, Kathleen McNenny (Death of a Salesman) as Catherine Stockmann, Randall Newsome (Inherit the Wind) as Horster, John Procaccino (Blood and Gifts) as Hovstad, Michael Siberry (Mrs. Warren's Profession) as Morton Kiil and James Waterston (Parents Evening, the Goodman Theatre's Chinglish) as Billing.

Cast members playing "townspeople" — an important idea in this play about mob fear — are Mike Boland, Victoria Frings, Andrew Hovelson, John Robert Tillotson (also playing The Drunk) and Ray Virta.



Does the adaptor view the work as an "issue" play?

"I don't want it to be just a morality play," Lenkiewicz told Playbill.com. "If you look just under the surface of it, you'll find it's very much about human frailty, and it's not about being judgmental. It's about how people negotiate the world together. Doctor Thomas Stockmann, around whom the play revolves, and his brother Peter — I think they're very flawed individuals. They're brothers with a primal sibling rivalry and they both have huge flaws."

Richard Thomas
photo by Joan Marcus

The creative team includes John Lee Beatty (scenic design), Catherine Zuber (costume design), Ben Stanton (lighting design), David Van Tieghem (original music and sound design), J. David Brimmer (fight direction) and Tom Watson (hair and wig design).

Norwegian playwright Ibsen (1828-1906) often filled his plays with characters questioning their place in society (and even in their own family). He's considered the father of modern western drama. In addition to An Enemy of the People, his plays include Hedda Gabler, A Doll's House, Ghosts, The Lady From the Sea, Peer Gynt, Pillars of Society, The Wild Duck, Rosmersholm, Master Builder, Little Eyolf, John Gabriel Borkman and When We Dead Awaken.

This is the American premiere of Lenkiewicz's version of An Enemy of the People. Her plays include The Night Season, National Theatre - Critics Circle Most Promising Playwright Award, 2004); Soho - A Tale of Table Dancers (Arcola Theatre/British Council tour, 2000); Shoreditch Madonna (Soho Theatre, 2005); Blue Moon Over Poplar (NYT/Soho Theatre, 2006); The Soldier's Tale (Old Vic Theatre, 2006); An Enemy of the People (Arcola, 2008); Faeries (Royal Opera House, 2008); Her Naked Skin (Olivier, Royal National Theatre, 2008 - first play to be performed on the Olivier stage by a living female playwright); Ghosts (adaptation, ATC/Arcola Theatre, 2009); The Lioness (Tricycle Theatre, 2010); The Typist (Sky Arts Live at the Riverside Studios, 2010); Stars Over Kabul (NYT, Glasgow, 2010); That Almost Unnameable Lust (Clean Break Theatre Co. at Soho Theatre, 2011) and The Painter (Arcola Theatre, 2011).

Subscriptions for MTC's 2012-13 season are available by calling (212) 399-3050 or online at ManhattanTheatreClub.com.

Single tickets to An Enemy of the People are on sale via Telecharge.com and at (212) 239-6200. The Friedman box office is at 261 W. 47th Street.