MTC's Broadway Run of Venus in Fur Closes Dec. 18, But Her Arms Reach Toward 2012
By Kenneth Jones
Venus in Fur, David Ives' dark comedy about a director auditioning a mysterious actress for a stage adaptation of an erotic novel, ends its limited fall run on Broadway Dec. 18. A commercial Broadway engagement will resurface in February 2012 at the Lyceum.
Its current Manhattan Theatre Club staging at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre stars Nina Arianda and Hugh Dancy (who will return). By the Dec. 18 close, the MTC run will have played 48 regular performances and 29 previews.
Performances will resume Feb. 7 at the Lyceum Theatre. The commercial producers who have given new arms to Venus are Jon B. Platt, Scott Landis, Manhattan Theatre Club Productions, Inc. (Lynne Meadow, artistic director; Barry Grove executive producer), Jessica R. Jenen, Scott M. Delman and Classic Stage Company.
Tony Award winner Walter Bobbie (Broadway's Chicago, Off-Broadway's The Submission) directs the 100-minute play, set in a Manhattan rehearsal studio. As a thunderstorm booms outside, a quirky actress named Vanda swaps roles with a young adaptor-director, Thomas, whose play about sexual power and gender roles inspires tensions and passion in the room.
The play premiered in early 2010 in a production by Off-Broadway's Classic Stage Company, with Arianda getting raves for her breakout performance. Arianda was Tony Award-nominated for later playing Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday. MTC picked up Venus in Fur for a limited engagement in its current Broadway season at the Friedman. Critics embraced the play and production.
Emmy Award nominee Dancy ("The Big C," Journey's End) joined the production in fall 2011; for the record, Wes Bentley created the role of Thomas Off-Broadway.
The spring return of Venus in Fur is a limited commercial engagement running Feb. 7-June 17, 2012.
Here's how producers characterize Venus in Fur: "Vanda (Arianda) is a preternaturally talented young actress determined to land the lead in Thomas' (Dancy) new play based on the classic erotic novel, 'Venus in Fur.' Her emotionally-charged audition for the gifted but demanding playwright/director becomes an electrifying game of cat and mouse, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, seduction and power, love and sex."
The creative team for Venus in Fir includes John Lee Beatty (scenic design), Anita Yavich (costume design), Peter Kaczorowski (lighting design), Acme Sound Partners (sound design) and Thomas Schall (fight direction).
Dancy made his Broadway debut in the 2008 Tony-winning revival of Journey's End. He returned to the New York stage in the 2009 production of The Pride, for which he received Lortel and Drama League Award nominations. Dancy also appeared in the West End production of To The Green Fields, directed by Sam Mendes. His film and TV credits include his Emmy-nominated role in the HBO miniseries “Elizabeth I,” the acclaimed film "Adam," "The Jane Austen Book Club" and "Evening." He can currently be seen in the second season of Showtime’s series “The Big C.”
Arianda earned a 2011 Best Actress Tony nomination for playing Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday. Her film credits include "Tower Heist," and the recent release of Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" and Tom McCarthy's "Win Win." Arianda trained at AMDA in their studio program for acting and at the New School for Liberal Arts in New York, Eugene Lang division. She received her MFA from NYU's Tisch graduate acting program.
The CSC staging of Venus in Fur won raves and became a sold-out hit, extending twice on East 13th Street. The production received two Drama League nominations including Distinguished Production of a Play, an Outer Critics Circle Award nomination, and three Lucille Lortel Award nominations. For the production, Arianda received a Theatre World Award, the Clarence Derwent Award, the Clive Barnes Award, and Drama League and Outer Critics Circle nominations.
Playwright David Ives and director Walter Bobbie worked together on MTC's 2003 production of Ives' Polish Joke, which featured Bobbie. They also have a long history working together as playwright and director, on Encores! productions as well as The School for Lies and New Jerusalem.
Ives' work includes his evenings of one-act comedies called All in the Timing and Time Flies. His full-length plays also include Is He Dead? (adapted from Mark Twain); White Christmas; Polish Joke; and Ancient History, plus translations of A Flea in Her Ear, Yasmina Reza's drama A Spanish Play, Pierre Corneille's 1643 comedy The Liar (a hit this past spring at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, DC), and his adaptation of Moliere's The Misanthrope, which he retitled The School for Lies to acclaim at Classic Stage Company. He also adapted Regnard's The Heir Apparent for DC's Shakespeare Theatre. Ives is also the author of three young-adult novels: "Monsieur Eek," "Scrib" and "Voss," and he has adapted 30 American musicals for New York City's Encores! series.
The understudies for the MTC Broadway run are Mark Alhadeff and Victoria Mack.
Tickets ($30-$130; Premium: $175 for Wednesday matinees, $200 for all other performances) will be available Dec. 15 by calling Telecharge.com at (212) 239-6200 or at www.telecharge.com. In-person sales at the Lyceum Theatre (149 W. 45th Street) begin Jan. 23.
The regular performance schedule is Tuesday through Thursday at 7 PM, Friday and Saturday at 8 PM, with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2 PM and Sunday at 3 PM.
For more information, visit www.VenusInFurBroadway.com.
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