Christmas Past, Present and Future Acted Out in MTC's New Staging of Absurd Person Singular

News   Christmas Past, Present and Future Acted Out in MTC's New Staging of Absurd Person Singular
Alan Ayckbourn's Absurd Person Singular, the crowd-pleasing comedy about three different couples and three different Christmases, begins performances by Manhattan Theatre Club at Broadway's Biltmore Theatre Sept. 22.

Alan Ruck and Clea Lewis in Absurd Person Singular.
Alan Ruck and Clea Lewis in Absurd Person Singular. Photo by Joan Marcus

John Tillinger directs the play, first seen on Broadway in the 1975-75 season. Opening night is Oct. 18.

The cast features Mireille Enos (Eva), Clea Lewis (Jane), Sam Robards (Geoffrey), Alan Ruck (Sidney), Deborah Rush (Marion) and Paxton Whitehead (Ronald).

Here's the work in a nutshell, according to MTC: "Three couples, three kitchens, three successive Christmas Eves: welcome to the world of Alan Ayckbourn's comedy about social class and splendid cocktails."

This marks the sixth Alan Ayckbourn play Manhattan Theatre Club has produced. The nearly 20-year relationship began with the 1988 production of Woman in Mind. Subsequent productions include Absent Friends (1991), A Small Family Business (1992), Comic Potential (2000) and the interwoven plays House and Garden (2002). Director John Tillinger has previously staged MTC's House and Garden and Comic Potential.

The creative team for Absurd Person Singular includes John Lee Beatty (set design), Jane Greenwood (costume design), Brian MacDevitt (lighting design) and Bruce Ellman (sound design). Robards received a Tony nomination for his Broadway debut in The Man Who Had All the Luck. Enos earned a Tony nomination as Honey in the recent Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? on Broadway. Ruck starred in TV's "Spin City" and recently on Broadway as Leo in The Producers. Cleo Lewis is remembered for her daffy turn as Audrey on TV's "Ellen," and appeared in Off-Broadway's Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight and MTC's Fuddy Meers and An Experiment With an Air Pump (Absurd Person is her Broadway debut). Whitehead has starred in a range of classic and popular roles on Broadway and around North America (he was Tony nommed for playing Pellinore in a 1981 revival of Camelot and was Col. Pickering in 1993's My Fair Lady on Broadway). Rush was Tony nominated for her work in the first Broadway production of Noises Off.

Single tickets to Absurd Person Singular ($26-$80) are available by calling at (212) 239-6200 or at

The Biltmore Theatre — MTC's third Manhattan home, in addition to Stage I and Stage II Off-Broadway at New York City Center — is at 261 W. 47th Street.



The original Broadway run of Absurd Person Singular played 591 performances at the Music Box, and earned Tony Award nominations for cast members Larry Blyden (Sidney), Geraldine Page (Marion) and Carole Shelley (Jane). It also starred Sandy Dennis (Eva), Richard Kiley (Ronald) and Tony Roberts (Geoffrey). Eric Thompson directed.

Coincidentally, Sept. 22 also marks the first preview of the American premiere of Ayckbourn's RolePlay at Pittsburgh Public Theater. Ted Pappas directs.

Ayckbourn's Private Fears in Public Places — the 67th play by the master of British comedy —will have a commercial run in New York City in 2006.

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