Bengal Tiger, With Robin Williams, Makes Its First Roar on Broadway March 11
By Kenneth Jones
Robin Williams makes his Broadway acting debut as the title feline in Rajiv Joseph's Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, a Pulitzer Prize-finalist play set in war-torn Iraq, starting previews March 11 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.
Moisés Kaufman, the director of 33 Variations and I Am My Own Wife, directs what the producers call a "savagely funny and deeply affecting play" in which "a tiger haunts the streets of present-day Baghdad seeking the meaning of life." The tiger "witnesses the puzzling absurdities of war," encountering "Americans and Iraqis who are searching for friendship, redemption and a toilet seat made of gold."
With the exception of Academy Award winner Williams ("Good Will Hunting," "Good Morning Vietnam," "Mrs. Doubtfire"), the Broadway company is made up of performers who appeared in earlier Los Angeles-area engagements of the acclaimed play in 2009 and 2010; Kaufman also directed there. The troupe features Glenn Davis, Brad Fleischer, Hrach Titizian, Sheila Vand, Necar Zadegan and Arian Moayed. (Kevin Tighe played the Tiger in California.)
The play was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Opening night is March 31.
Williams has appeared on Broadway as a standup comedian, but not in a dramatic role. The Oscar, Emmy and Grammy Award-winning Williams appeared Off-Broadway opposite Steve Martin in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot at Lincoln Center in 1988. He shot to fame on the TV series "Mork & Mindy" before enjoying Hollywood stardom.
Glenn Davis appeared Off-Broadway in the Vineyard Theatre production of Tarell McCraney's Wig Out and at Steppenwolf Theatre in McCraney's The Brother/Sister Plays. Brad Fleischer, seen Off-Broadway in the Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of Streamers and on Broadway in Coram Boy, has appeared in Joseph's play Gruesome Playground Injuries at the Alley Theatre. Arian Moayed's credits include Tony Kushner’s Homebody/Kabul at BAM and Steppenwolf, Queens Blvd at Signature Theatre and American Pilot at Manhattan Theatre Club. He received a Drama Desk Award nomination for his performance in Masked Off-Broadway at DR2 Theatre. A stage actor and former theatre producer, Hrach Titizian has appeared in the films "The Kingdom" and "The Men Who Stare at Goats." Sheila Vand appeared in the Los Angeles Theatre Company production of Portrait of the Architect in Ruins and was a regular on the television series "Prom Queen." Necar Zadegan appeared in the West Coast premiere of Diana Son's play Stop Kiss.
Playwright Joseph is the young American playwright whose plays include Gruesome Playground Injuries (recently at Off-Broadway's Second Stage Theatre), Animals Out of Paper, Huck & Holden, All This Intimacy and The Leopard and the Fox.
The production has scenic design by Tony winner Derek McLane, costume design by David Zinn, lighting design by David Lander, sound design by Acme Sound Partners, and original music composed by Kathryn Bostic.
Director Kaufman received a Tony nomination for his direction of Doug Wright's play I Am My Own Wife, and a Tony nomination as playwright for 33 Variations, seen on Broadway starring Jane Fonda (it's currently playing Los Angeles). As founder of Tectonic Theatre Project, he wrote and directed Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, and directed The Laramie Project, which he co-wrote with other members of the company.
Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo is produced on Broadway by Robyn Goodman, Kevin McCollum, Jeffrey Seller, Sander Jacobs, Ruth Hendel/Burnt Umber, Scott and Brian Zeilinger, Center Theater Group and Stephen Kocis/Walt Grossman.
The Rodgers (recently home to In the Heights) is at 226 W. 46 St. between Broadway and Eighth Avenue. Performances play Tuesdays at 7 PM, Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 PM, with matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 PM and Sundays at 3 PM.
The Rodgers box office hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 AM-8 PM and starting March 13 on Sundays from noon to 6 PM.
Tickets to Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo are also available by calling Ticketmaster at (212) 307-4100 or (800) 755-4000. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com or by visiting www.bengaltigeronbroadway.com.
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