Off-Broadway Hit Frozen Solidifies on Broadway April 28

News   Off-Broadway Hit Frozen Solidifies on Broadway April 28
Frozen, Bryony Lavery's chilling drama about a missing child, which became a late-season hit for MCC Theatre, transfers to Broadway's Circle in the Square April 28.

Swoosie Kurtz in Frozen
Swoosie Kurtz in Frozen Photo by Dixie Sheridan

Opening night is May 4. The Off-Broadway cast of Swoosie Kurtz, Brian O'Byrne and Laila Robins repeat their duties. Doug Hughes directs, the veteran regional and Off-Broadway helmsman making his Broadway debut. The busy Hughes' work on the Theatre for a New Audience staging Engaged opens at Off-Broadway's Lucille Lortel Theatre on April 29.

Rumors about a quick transfer to Broadway began soon after Frozen opened in early March to largely rave reviews. The show closed April 10 at the East 13th Street Theatre (usually home to Classic Stage Company). The play is capitalized at $1.5 million.

MCC, which chose to back the venture itself rather than go with commercial Broadway producers, is the leading producer of the production, with some MCC board members also playing producing roles. Frozen is the first commercial Broadway transfer in the nonprofit's history. Wit, another MCC show, almost made it to Broadway, but eventually settled into a long run at the Union Square Theatre.

The complete list of producers runs: MCC Theater (Robert Lupone, Bernard Telsey, Artistic Directors; William Cantler, Associate Artistic Director; John G. Schultz, Executive Director), Harold Newman, Zollo/Paleologos & Jeffrey Sine, Roy Gabay, Lorie Cowen Levy & Beth Smith, Thompson H. Rogers, Swinsky/ Filerman/ Hendel, Sirkin/Mills/Baldassare and Darren Bagert.

Circle in the Square's in-the-round space partially mirrors the seating set-up of the CSC venue on 13th Street, which has seats on three sides of the stage. MCC's artistic directors Bernard Telsey and Robert LuPone said they wanted to recapture on Broadway the intimacy of the Off-Broadway mounting. Broadway observers expect that all three actors will be likely Tony Award nominees, and that the drama itself may give the Best Play Tony's leading contender, I Am My Own Wife, its stiffest competition.

The artistic directors said that, should Frozen become a commercial hit, income from the show would likely fund the creation of a new permanent Off-Broadway space. MCC lost its Chelsea home a couple seasons back and has since rented a series of stages.

Frozen connects the lives of three strangers involved in a child's disappearance: the mother of the child (Kurtz), the kidnapper (O'Byrne) and an American academic studying serial killers (Robins).

Frozen was Lavery's first work to get a production at the prestigious National Theatre and is the British playwright's most significant stage success to date. Hughes directs the trio of actors on a nearly bare stage. Each character frequently speaks directly to the audience, in a series of aria-like scenes. Later on in the drama, the characters interact.

Kurtz made a cameo appearance (via film) in MCC's staging of Kate Robin's Intrigue With Faye last season. Her last stint on Broadway was in the Nora Ephron play with music Imaginary Friends in which she played literary diva Lillian Hellman. She was also set to star as another famous author, Jacqueline Susann, in the long-Broadway-bound production of Paper Doll which was postponed. She has won Tony Awards for her turns in Fifth of July and The House of Blue Leaves. Kurtz is also known for her film roles in "The World According to Garp," "Against All Odds," "Dangerous Liaisons" and on television's "Sisters."

O'Byrne starred in the original productions of Martin McDonagh's The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Skull in Connemara and The Lonesome West, as well as the Broadway stagings of the first and latter, which earned him his Tony nods. Other stage credits include The Sisters Rosensweig, Hapgood, Seconds Out and Smelling a Rat.

Robins has been a regular at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey for each of the last seven seasons, in such works as Three Sisters, Arms and the Man and Twelfth Night. On Broadway, she was seen in The Herbal Bed and The Real Thing and Off-Broadway in Tiny Alice and Mrs. Klein.

The design team for Frozen includes Hugh Landwehr (set), Catherine Zuber (costume), Clifton Taylor (lighting), Angelina Avallone (make-up and tattoo) and David Van Tieghem (sound) — who also provides original music. Rick Sordelet handles fight direction and Stephen Gabis serves as dialect coach.

Laila Robins and Brian F. O'Byrne in <i>Frozen</i>
Laila Robins and Brian F. O'Byrne in Frozen Photo by Dixie Sheridan
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