Off-Broadway Hit Drama Tribes Ends Record-Breaking Run Jan. 20; L.A. Is Next

By Adam Hetrick
January 20, 2013

Nina Raine's hit family drama Tribes, about a young deaf man who must face leaving his own dysfunctional clan in order to secure his own future, ends its extended, critically acclaimed Off-Broadway run Jan. 20 at the Barrow Street Theatre.



Lucille Lortel and Obie Award-winning director David Cromer (Our Town, The House of Blue Leaves) directed the intimate, in-the-round production that began previews Feb. 16, 2012, and opened to raves March 4 at the Barrow Street Theatre. The celebrated production was extended three times.

Tribes recouped its entire investment, a rarity in the Off-Broadway commercial world. The production, which played 19 previews and 391 regular performances, grossed over $2.5 million by the time it closed. 

Tribes features original cast member, Theatre World Award winner Russell Harvard ("The Hammer," "There Will Be Blood") as Billy, with Nick Westrate as Daniel, Susannah Flood (A Civil War Christmas) as Sylvia, Lee Roy Rogers (Orson's Shadow) as Beth, Jeff Still (August: Osage County) as Christopher and Dina Thomas (See How They Run) as Ruth.

Much of the original cast, including Harvard, Sousan Pourfar, Will Brill and Gayle Rankin, will reunite with director Cromer for the L.A. production that begins Feb. 27 at the Mark Taper Forum. Current Off-Broadway cast members Rogers and Still will also be part of that production. 

Tribes received the Drama Desk Award for Best New Play, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Play and the Off Broadway Alliance Award for Best New Play. It also received an Olivier Award nomination for its 2010 London debut.

The play surpassed Cromer's hit staging of Our Town, as well as Bug and No Child, to become the fastest-selling show in Barrow Street Theatre's history. It broke all Barrow Street box-office records last spring.

Read the Playbill Magazine interview with Russell Harvard.

Scott Morfee, Jean Doumanian and Tom Wirtshafter, who produced Cromer's staging of Thornton Wilder's Our Town Off-Broadway, are among the producers of Tribes. The producing team also includes Patrick Daly, 2Manocherians, Christian Chadd Taylor, Burnt Umber Productions, Roger E. Kass and Marc & Lisa Biales.

The creative team includes Tony Award-winning scenic designer Scott Pask, costume designer Tristan Raines, lighting designer Keith Parham, sound designer Daniel Kluger and projection designer Jeff Sugg.

Here's how the play is billed: "In Tribes, Billy was born deaf into a hearing family, and raised inside the fiercely idiosyncratic and unrepentantly politically incorrect cocoon of his parents' house. He has adapted brilliantly to his family's unconventional ways, but they've never bothered to return the favor. It's not until he meets Sylvia, a young woman on the brink of deafness, that he finally understands what it means to be understood."

Cromer staged Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, as well as the Broadway revival of The House of Blue Leaves. His credits also include Adding Machine, When the Rain Stops Falling, Picnic and the short-lived 2009 Broadway revival of Brighton Beach Memoirs.

The next tentant of the Barrow Street Theatre will be the new play with music Hit the Wall, about the dawn of the Stonewall Riots, which will begin previews Feb. 19. Tribes producers Morfee, Doumanian and Wirtshafter present the work. 

Visit tribestheplay.com. The Barrow Street Theatre is located at 27 Barrow Street.