Didn't get to the Russian production of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard recently at Broadway's Martin Beck Theatre? Well, there's more Chekhov to come when Off-Broadway's Worth Street Theatre presents a revival of Jeff Cohen's contemporary adaptation of The Seagull, beginning Dec. 8.
The show was supposed to start Dec. 4, but because star Marin Hinkle has been appearing as the bride in Tony Kushner's adaptation of A Dybbuk at the Public Theatre, and that show was extended a week through Dec. 7, previews were moved up a few days. The opening date, Dec. 10, has not changed for this open run of Seagull.
First staged by the now-defunct RAPP Arts Center seven years ago, The Seagull: The Hamptons, 1990's is directed again by Cohen. He's the former artistic director of the RAPP Center and current artistic director at Worth Street.
Characterizations stay the same in the piece, even though it takes place on Long Island's Hamptons community rather than late 19th century Russia. For example, the troubled young playwright, Konstantin Treplev, has been here renamed Conrad Tripp and has been changed to a performance artist. Madame Arkadina is still an actress, though here she's named "Irene Archer."
A then-unknown Laura Linney starred in the original production, alongside D.B. Sweeney. Now Marin Hinkle will play Nina and Neal Huff is Conrad. Hinkle starrred on Broadway in A Thousand Clowns (opposite Judd Hirsch) and Off-Broadway in Sabina and the current A Dybbuk. Huff appeared in the recent Broadway mounting of The Tempest. Also in The Seagull: The Hamptons, 1990's are Lizbeth Mackay (Crimes Of The Heart, The Heiress), Charles Tuthill (as Trigorin), Stewart Steinberg and Worth Street ensemble members Kevin Beyer, Michael Hobbs, Diane Love, P.J. Saunders and Darius Stone.
Designing this Seagull's plumage Ted Pierce (set), Mimi O'Donnell (costumes) and Todd Gardner (lighting).
Other Chekhovian projects on the NY horizon include Kevin Kline in Ivanov at Lincoln Center, and a straight version of The Seagull staged by Austin Pendelton for the Blue Light Theatre Company in January 1998. The Chekhov mini-boom in New York comes at an appropriate time, since this year marks the 100th anniversary of the first production of The Seagull, done by the Moscow Art Theatre.
The Seagull isn't Cohen's only Chekhovian challenge; he recently penned an adaptation of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya as well, titled "Uncle Jack."
Worth Street producer and spokesperson Carol Fineman told Playbill On Line the company's first production was Coyote Bleeds in Dec. 95, followed by Orestes, I Murdered My Mother. "We do a mix of new work and looks at classics in a contemporary way," she said.
The next project after Seagull will be Snapshots 1998, an evening of one-act plays that serves as a sequel of sorts to last season's Snapshots. This year's works haven't yet been selected; last year's included pieces by Keith Reddin, Richard Greenberg, Ara Watson and Jeff Cohen.
For tickets ($25-$35) and information on The Seagull: The Hamptons, 1990's at the Theatre 3 space on West 43rd St., call (212) 274-2800.
-- By David Lefkowitz