Kate Burton will give her last performance as the title temptress in Hedda Gabler on Jan. 13, bringing to an end her long association with the role. Burton first played Ibsen's anti-heroine in June 2000 at the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, Long Island. From there, she graced the Williamstown Theatre Festival and then Boston's Huntington Theatre with her portrayal.
The latter engagement was caught by New York Times critic Ben Brantley, who gave the show and Burton's turn such a rave than the production was catapulted to Broadway. After an aborted attempt to open in spring 2001, Hedda began previews at the Ambassador Sept. 19 and opened Oct. 4. The play retained a big champion in the Times, and other papers praised it as well. Some critics, however, were underwhelmed and audiences did not, by and large, materialize. The staging, which could arguably have run as long as it wanted, chose to shutter Jan. 13.
Despite the somewhat mixed reception, Burton has emerged from the production a much bigger name than she was and is on the short list for many season-end awards and honors.
Throughout Hedda's four incarnations, the personnel remained largely the same. The adaptation, by Jon Robin Baitz, was directed by Nicholas Martin. From the start, Burton's fellow cast members included Michael Emerson as Hedda's ineffectual husband, George Tesman; Harris Yulin as the imperious Judge Brack; and David Lansbury as Eilert Lovborg. Katie Finneran played Mrs. Elvsted in Sag Harbor and Williamstown, but left the production to star in Broadway's Cabaret and then Noise Off. She was replaced by Jennifer Van Dyck.
¸* - Z ow are Alexaa– Dodge (set), Michael Krass (costumes), Kevin Adams (lighting) and Jerry Yager (sound). Peter Golub will contribute original music to the piece. Hedda Gabler's final performance on Sunday, Jan. 13 at 8 PM, will benefit the Actors' Fund of America. Tickets are $71.25-$36.25. For information, call (212) 221-7300 ext. 133 / 134, TeleCharge at (212) 239-6200, or visit The Ambassador Theatre box office, or www.actorsfund.org.
Though Burton will be leaving Hedda Gabler, she won't leave the Europe of the late 19th century. Her next part looks to be Mrs. Kendal in the upcoming Broadway revival of The Elephant Man, playing opposite Billy Crudup's John Merrick.
Kate Burton tried her hand at one of the most celebrated and oft- performed female dramatic leads in the history of the theatre. Written in 1890, the play had its American debut in 1892. The last hundred years or so are filled with legendary Heddas. The famed Italian actress Eleanora Duse played the part in London. The Russian Alla Nazimova, renowned for her work in Ibsen's dramas, made her New York debut on Nov. 13, 1906, in Hedda Gabler. The performance was seen by and influenced Eva LaGallienne, who years later, at her own Civic Repertory Theatre, essayed what is probably the most acclaimed Hedda of the 20th Century.