Mark Lamos to Bring Sheridan's The Rivals Into the Beaumont

By Robert Simonson
August 23, 2004

Mark Lamos will direct a rare Broadway revival of Sheridan's comedy classic The Rivals at Lincoln Center Theater's Vivian Beaumont Theatre. It will begin performances Nov. 26 and open Dec. 16.

No casting has been announced.

The play is suddenly popular among the nation's nonprofits. D.C.'s Shakespeare Theatre produced it in summer 2003 and Boston's Huntington Theatre has scheduled it for January 2005.

Penned in 1775, The Rivals was Richard Brinsley Sheridan's first play and is, next to School for Scandal, his most famous. It tells the story of a rich captain who pretends to be a poor naval officer to court a lady who does not care about wealth. Mistaken identities and hilarious circumstances abound in the "satire of romance, materialism and pretensions."

The play contains some of the choicest roles in the classical repertory, including Captain Jack Absolute, Sir Lucius O'Trigger and Bob Acres, and one immortal character, Mrs. Malaprop, a woman who uses long words, but always to the wrong purpose. The name begat the word "Malapropism."

The Rivals has not been performed on Broadway since 1942, when Eva LeGallienne directed it for the Theatre Guild. (Le Gallienne has acted in a 1923 Broadway version.) Prior to that, producer George C. Tyler gave the public Mrs. Fiske as Mrs. Malaprop.