More than a year after it premiered Off-Broadway, Richard Nelson's musical adaptation, James Joyce's The Dead, ends its long and winding travels Nov. 12, in Washington, D.C.
The Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theatre run in D.C. Oct. 14-Nov. 12 was a special engagement that followed a summer booking at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, preceded by a January 2000 Broadway run at the Belasco Theatre and the October-November 1999 Off-Broadway world premiere run at Playwrights Horizons.
Tickets are "extremely limited" for the final weekend of shows in D.C., according to the box office.
Faith Prince and Stephen Bogardus sing with an Irish lilt in the Washington D.C. premiere of James Joyce's The Dead. There was hope in this post-Broadway company that a producer might invite the show to a another special booking, perhaps to a city such as Boston, which has a thriving Irish community, but that did to happen. This production is not an official national tour, but made up of two special bookings in L.A. and D.C.
Some of the cast of the early 2000 Broadway run has splintered off to do other projects, and the DC company is slightly different from the Prince-Bogardus troupe that was seen July 11 Sept. 3 in a special Los Angeles engagement of the musical play.
Adapted from the famed Joyce short story of the same name, the tuner tells of a husband and wife who find an emotional gulf between them while attending an annual Christmas party at Aunt Julia and Aunt Kate's home in Ireland in the early 20th century.
Richard Nelson penned the book (and won a Tony Award for it) and directed. The rarefied musical has songs by Shaun Davey. For much of the show, the tunes are performed as presentational: Sung as party songs at the Irish Christmas gathering. Nelson and Davey used poetry fragments, music hall songs, chunks of Joyce's text and original lyrics and music for the patchwork score.
Bogardus plays the show's Irish narrator, Gabriel Conroy, husband to Gretta, played by Prince. Gretta's memory of a dead love is stirred at the yule party, exposing an emotional chasm between the husband and wife. Prince and Bogardus are old pals and co-stars from Off Broadway's Falsettoland. On Broadway, they followed original stars Blair Brown and Christopher Walken, who created the roles at Playwrights Horizons in fall 1999 and at the Belasco Theatre.
Nelson is best known as playwright of Two Shakespearean Actors, Goodnight Children Everywhere, Some Americans Abroad and New England.
The D.C.c company includes Angela Christian (taking over for Alice Ripley, who is in the new Broadway Rocky Horror Show), Stephanie Block, Alice Cannon (as Aunt Julia), Sean Cullen (as Freddy), John Kelly, Megan McGinnis, Paddy Croft, Brandon Sean Wardell, Laura Woyasz and Marni Nixon (as Aunt Kate).
James Joyce's The Dead went from a sold-out run at Off Broadway's Playwrights Horizons in fall 1999 to a limited run at the Belasco Theatre on Broadway to an open run at the same house, closing April 16, after 112 performances and 32 previews.
Producers Gregory Mosher and Arielle Tepper moved the Playwrights Horizons company — including stars Christopher Walken and Blair Brown — to the Belasco, where it opened Jan. 11.
Walken began a three-week vacation shortly before the closing notice was announced. He was replaced on vacation by Bogardus, who played out the Broadway run, opposite Prince, who had replaced Blair Brown when she left to start rehearsals for Copenhagen on Broadway. *
Nelson and composer Davey created an intimate musical drama of detail, which some critics embraced as an antidote to brassier pop fare on Broadway.
The Dead won the New York Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Awards for Best New Musical. Sean Curran recreates his Broadway choreography. Designers are David Jenkins (scenic), Jane Greenwood (costumes), Jennifer Tipton (lighting), Scott Lehrer (sound). Orchestrations are by Shaun Davey.
Tickets for the Kennedy Center run of The Dead range $55-$79. For ticket information call (202) 467-4600 or (800) 444-1324.
Next up for star Faith Prince is a spring 2001 Broadway revival of the musical, Bells Are Ringing.