The Common Pursuit, Following College Pals Over the Years, Opens in NYC; Moisés Kaufman Directs
By Kenneth Jones
Roundabout Theatre Company's new production of Simon Gray's comedy-drama The Common Pursuit, about literary-minded college friends who are changed over the years, opens May 24 following previews from May 4 at RTC's Off-Broadway home at the Laura Pels Theatre. Tony Award nominee Moisés Kaufman directs Kristen Bush as Marigold, Kieran Campion as Peter, Josh Cooke as Stuart, Jacob Fishel as Martin, Tim McGeever as Humphry and Lucas Near-Verbrugghe as Nick.
Kaufman directed Broadway's I Am My Own Wife (for which he received a Tony nomination) and 33 Variations and Off-Broadway's The Laramie Project. This is a limited engagement through July 29.
According to Roundabout, "The Common Pursuit chronicles 20 years in the lives of six friends, from their ambitious collegiate days to their surprising discoveries in the real world. Idealistic Cambridge student Stuart Thorne enlists some of his classmates to help him launch a new literary magazine. With the pursuit of great literature as their common thread, they become lifelong friends. But when damaging secrets crop up and business demands creep in, Stuart is faced with some unexpected decisions. Delightfully witty and remarkably poignant, The Common Pursuit is a captivating journey from who we think we are...to who we turn out to be."
The design team includes Derek McLane (sets), Clint Ramos (costumes) and David Lander (lights).
The Common Pursuit had its American premiere at Long Wharf Theater in 1985. The first Off-Broadway production in 1986 ran 352 performances and received the 1987 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play and the 1987 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Play.
Bush appeared in Off-Broadway's Kin (Playwrights Horizons), Photograph 51 (Ensemble Studio Theatre) and King Lear (with Kevin Kline at The Public Theater); Campion appeared in the Roundabout Broadway production of Pygmalion and in the Tony-winning Journey's End; Cooke appeared in Come Back Little Sheba for Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles; Fishel was in Broadway's Fiddler on the Roof and Off-Broadway's The Broken Heart (TFANA), Titus Andronicus (The Public Lab), Women Beware Women (Red Bull Theatre) and Macbeth (NYSF); McGeever, coming out of Roundabout's current production of Don't Dress for Dinner, made his Broadway debut in Les Liaisons Dangereuses; Near-Verbrugghe apperared in Broadway's Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Off-Broadway's Assistance (Playwrights Horizons), Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (Public), Macbeth (NYSF), Oorah! (Atlantic), boom (Ars Nova) and The Most Excellent Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet and As You Like It.
Kaufman most recently directed the Broadway production of Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. He is one of the playwrights whose work is featured in Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays.
Playwright Gray (1936-2008) began his writing career with "Colmain" (1963), the first of five novels, all published by Faber. He wrote more than 30 stage plays, including Butley and Otherwise Engaged (which both received Evening Standard Awards for Best Play), Close of Play, The Rear Column, Quartermaine's Terms (winner of eight Obie Awards), Hidden Laughter, The Late Middle Classes (winner of the Barclay's Best Play Award), Japes, The Old Masters (his ninth play to be directed by Harold Pinter) and Little Nell, which premiered at the Theatre Royal Bath in 2007, directed by Peter Hall.
His works of non-fiction are "An Unnatural Pursuit"; "How's That for Telling 'Em, Fat Lady?"; "Fat Chance"; "Enter a Fox"; "The Smoking Diaries"; "The Year of the Jouncer"; "The Last Cigarette"; and "Coda."
The dramatization of his Diaries, The Last Cigarette, co-authored with Hugh Whitemore and directed by Richard Eyre, played in the West End in spring/summer 2009. In 1990 Simon Gray was awarded the BAFTA Writer's Award. He was appointed CBE in the 2005 New Year's Honours for his services to Drama and Literature. Visit www.simongray.org.uk.
The Common Pursuit plays Tuesday through Saturday evening at 7:30 PM with Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 PM.
The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre/Laura Pels Theatre is at 111 W. 46th Street.
Ticket prices range $71-$81. Tickets are available by calling Roundabout Ticket Services at (212) 719-1300, online at roundabouttheatre.org or at the Laura Pels box office.
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