Puritans may have landed on Plymouth Rock, but it'll be the very un-Puritanical Mrs. Robinson who'll land at Broadway's Plymouth Theatre March 15, when Terry Johnson's adaptation of the film classic, The Graduate, begins previews.
These names, along with the marquee value of the title, seem to have registered with ticket buyers both in New York and out of town. The play, which further fleshes out the characters of the film, has been a box office hit in pre-Broadway engagements in Baltimore (Jan. 10-20), Toronto (Jan. 23-Feb. 17) and Boston (Feb. 20-March 10). The $1.8 million production also has a healthy springboard for its Broadway launch. The advance is said to be more than $3 million.
Rehearsals began the week of Dec. 10, 2001, with the supporting cast including Murphy Guyer, Kate Skinner, Victor Slezak, Larry Cahn, Susan Cella, John Hillner, Jurian Hughes, Robert Emmet Lunney, Judson Pearce Morgan and Kelly Overton. Howard/Schecter/Meltzer handled the casting.
Designers are Rob Howell (sets and costumes), Hugh Vanstone (lighting), Christopher Cronin (sound) and Naomi Donne (hair and makeup). Barrington Pheloung has composed and arranged original music for the piece, which to date has remained most closely associated with the Simon and Garfunkel songs sprinkled throughout Mike Nichols' 1967 film version. Simon and Garfunkel's work is also heard in the show. The Graduate is written by Terry Johnson, adapted from the original novel by Charles Webb and the motion picture screenplay by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry. The piece tells of a naive college graduate facing a hollow middle-class future (possibly "in plastics"). His secret dalliance with Mrs. Robinson, an older woman who seduces him, broadens his perspective but also, understandably, jeopardizes his relationship with her daughter.
Author-director Johnson also staged the London mounting, produced in the West End (and on Broadway) by John Reid and Sacha Brooks. The show opened at the Gielgud April 5, 2000. Reid and Brooks are still the lead producers, in association with Clear Channel Entertainment and StudioCanal.
Writer-director Johnson penned and staged the London plays Dead Funny and Cleo, Camping, Emmanuel and Dick, which took the Olivier Award for Best Comedy. he wrote the plays Hysteria, Imagine Drowning, Cries from the Mammal House, Unsuitable for Adults and Insignificance. His West End directorial credits include The Memory of Water, Elton John's Glasses, Entertaining Mr. Sloane and the world premiere of Philip Ridley's Sparkleshark at the Royal National Theatre.
Prior to the ramping of The Graduate for Broadway, actress Turner had been promised in a solo turn, Tallulah (which toured the country last year but stopped short of Broadway so the script could continue to be developed). The "Romancing the Stone," "Body Heat" and Indiscretions actress played the elegant, heavy-lidded Tallulah Bankhead in the show, which premiered in Chichester in 1997 and enjoyed a run at FL's Coconut Grove Theatre in 1999.
The Graduate caused a sensation in London for the full nude appearance of the actresses (including Turner) playing Mrs. Robinson. Silverstone is best known for the film "Clueless" and for being a "Batman" Batgirl, while Biggs starred in the teen-aimed Hollywood sex comedy, "American Pie" and its sequel. He is expected to be out of the Broadway staging of The Graduate for several weeks this summer while he shoots a Woody Allen picture.
Turner originated the Mrs. Robinson role in April 2000 and caused a sensation by dropping a towel and appearing naked, albeit briefly and in dim lighting. After Turner came Jerry Hall, Amanda Donohoe, Anne Archer and Linda Gray. The part was first made famous on film by Anne Bancroft.
Tickets range $40-$75. The Plymouth Theatre is at 236 W. 45th Street. For ticket information, call (212) 239-6200 or (800) 432-7250.