Now that the Roundabout Theatre Company have been evicted from their former Broadway home at the Criterion Center, they've set up camp at Off Broadway's Gramercy Theatre with Hurrah at Last and are gearing up for their next Gramercy production, the American premiere of Brian's Friel's Give Me Your Answer, Do!, beginning previews Sept. 10.
The play is set in Donegal, Ireland where novelist Tom Connolly and his wife Daisy nervously await the decision of their American houseguest as to whether he will purchase Tom's papers for a U.S. college library -- a deal which would offer some compensation for Tom's recent literary paralysis. Answer officially opens Sept. 30.
No casting has been announced for the Friel play, though Kyle Donnelly, a former Associate Artistic Director of Arena Stage, has been signed to direct. With Answer, The Roundabout continues its relationship with Friel, having previously produced the American Premiere of Friel's Molly Sweeney and a revival of Philadelphia, Here I Come!. Other plays by Friel include the 1992 Tony Award-winning best play, Dancing at Lughnasa, Lovers, The Mundy Scheme, The Loves of Cass McGuire, Faith Healer, Aristocrats, Wonderful Tennessee and The Freedom of the City.
Other big news for Friel: The Abbey Theatre and Gate Theatre of Ireland will stage a three-play, Brian Friel mini-festival at Lincoln Center's Summer Festival, July 6-25. The Gate will mount Friel's translation of Uncle Vanya and his 1979 drama, Aristocrats. The Abbey, meanwhile, will serve up the 1973 play The Freedom of the City.
The design team for Answer includes Tom Lynch (sets), Martin Pakledinaz (costumes), and Kenneth Posner (lighting). Roundabout Artistic Director Todd Haimes has previously told PBOL there was a possibility of a second fall production for The Roundabout at another New York theatre, but nothing definite was in place.
Otherwise, Haimes and company will wait for the completion of the restored Selwyn Theatre, the Roundabout's new 42nd Street home. There, said Haimes, the company plans a three-show season for the year 2000. He did not think the company would remain at the Gramercy past its two year lease. "It's a commercial space," he said. "I don't think that's what the theatre's owners want."
Haimes plans to see the Roundabout through their move to the Selwyn. Regarding his new position as creative director of the troubled and bankrupt Livent, Haimes was realistic and philosophical. "Who knows what's going to happen," he observed. "A lot of my friends have told me `I'm glad you didn't give up your day job.'" No word on how the pending SFX takeover deal will affect Haimes' position.
-- By Sean McGrath