The Public Theater's world-premiere co-production of Take Me Out, Richard Greenberg's hotly anticipated new play about a famous baseball player who tells the world he's gay, will open on Sept. 5.
The show has been the talk of the town and a hot ticket since beginning previews Aug. 23.
The play's popularity continues the Public's current winning streak, which began last season with hit Broadway transfers of Elaine Stritch at Liberty and Topdog/Underdog; the former won a Tony Award, the latter a Pulitzer.
Though Take Me Out is scheduled to run only through Sept. 29, a post-opening extension is almost a certainty.
Greenberg, whom nobody would call a sports fan, wrote the play after becoming suddenly obsessed with baseball one recent summer. In the play, Darren Leeming, a young and popular baseball star at the top of his game, calls a press conference and, without telling anyone what he is about to do, comes out to the media. Not surprisingly, there is considerable fall out. A choice bit of dialogue from the work runs: "If I'm gonna have sex — and I am because I'm young and rich and famous and talented and handsome so it's a law — I'd rather do it with a guy, but, when all is said and done...I'd rather just play ball." The production has inspired articles and essays in most of Gotham's newspapers and magazines, with theatre and sports pundits speculating on what would happen should a ballplayer come out, and why—in an American culture obsessed with the details of celebrities' private lives, and populated with famous folk who are more than willing to oblige—no current hitter or fielder has yet done so.
Much of the drama unfolds in a baseball locker room. There is an extended shower scene and several of the actors appear nude in the staging, prompting the media to spill ink (the nudity in Broadway's current Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune similarly thrilled journalists).
Greenberg has kept New York City supplied with a steady stream of plays lately, included Everett Beekin and The Dazzle, but Take Me Out looks to be his hottest property since Pulitzer Prize finalist Three Days of Rain became one of the most-produced plays in the U.S. He is also the author of Eastern Standard, Night and Her Stars and The Extra Man.
Performances of the co-production with London's Donmar Warehouse begin at The Public's Anspacher Theater Aug. 23, following a summer run in London, June 20-Aug. 3. Take Me Out is the first Public Theater show of the 2002-2003 season.
Joe Mantello directs a cast that includes Kevin Carroll (45 Seconds From Broadway, Angels in America), Dominic Fumusa (Tape and [sic]), Gene Gabriel, Neal Huff (The Public's Tempest and Troilus and Cressida), Robert M. Jimenez (The Public's Richard II, Marisol, Othello), Joe Lisi (who replaced Stephen Mendillo in rehearsals), Denis O'Hare (Cabaret, Ten Unknowns), Kohl Sudduth, Daniel Sunjata (a Lincoln Center Twelfth Night and Williamstown Theatre vet, playing the ballplayer who outs himself), Frederick Weller (The Shape of Things) and James Yaegashi (an Alabama Shakespeare Festival vet).
Tickets are $45, and weekends for the announced run are virtually sold out. The Public Theater is at 425 Lafayette Street. For tickets, visit www.publictheater.org or call (212) 239-6200.