Sean McNall Is New Kenneth Tynan in Off-Broadway's Orson's Shadow

News   Sean McNall Is New Kenneth Tynan in Off-Broadway's Orson's Shadow
Orson's Shadow, Austin Pendleton's play about fame, failure and the theatre, has a new Kenneth Tynan.

Sean McNall will take over the role of the famed English drama critic, which was originated at the Barrow Street Theatre by Tracy Letts on May 17. Letts, who is also a playwright (Bug), gave his last performance on May 15.

McNall is a stalwart at another Greenwich Village theatre, the Pearl Theatre Company. There, he has played in I Have Been Here Before, The Imaginary Invalid, Double Infidelity, The Persians, The Rivals, Daisy Mayme, The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice and Gogol's Marriage.

Orson's Shadow began its New York premiere on March 1 and opened on March 13 to good reviews. Still in the cast are Jeff Still, John Judd, Lee Roy Rogers, Susan Bennett and Ian Westerfer.

Orson's Shadow concerns the 1960 London premiere of Ionesco's Rhinoceros, which starred Laurence Olivier and was directed by Orson Welles. At the time, Olivier was going through a nasty divorce from his second wife, actress Vivien Leigh, who named actress (and, from 1961, Olivier's third wife) Joan Plowright as co-respondent in her divorce filing. Kenneth Tynan was London's leading dramatic critic and all-around enfant terrible, a friend of both Welles and Olivier (he would co-found the Royal National Theatre with Oliver in 1963), and a frequent sparring partner of Ionesco's. All five famous figures are featured in the drama.

The play had its premiere in 2000 at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, where it was a critical success and extended its run. A mounting at the Williamstown Theatre Festival followed that summer, leading to a production at the Westport Country Playhouse. The latter was less successful critically, though the cast and director where the same as in Chicago. A 2001 Los Angeles production fared better, extending its run and picking of a L.A. Critics Circle Award for Best Production. David Cromer directs. Set design is by Takeshi Kata, costume design by Theresa Squire, lighting design by Tyler Micoleau and sound by Jonah Lawrence.

Producing are Planetearth Partners, Inc. and Scott Morfee, the team behind the hit Off-Broadway production of Bug.

Pendleton is, of course, best known for his decades of acting. He began his stage career in Arthur Kopit's Oh Dad, Poor Dad... and went on to create roles in Fiddler on the Roof, The Sorrows of Frederick, Doubles and The Last Sweet Days of Isaac. Also a director, he helmed the premieres of Say Goodnight Gracie, Spoils of War, The Runner Stumbles and Shelter, as well as the famous revival of The Little Foxes starring Elizabeth Taylor (for which he received a Tony nomination). On film, he's best remembered through roles in "What's Up, Doc?," "The Front Page," "The Muppet Movie," "My Cousin Vinny," "Mr. and Mrs. Bridge" and "Finding Nemo."

Pendleton actually worked with Orson Welles in the film "Catch 22," in which he played the wimpy son of Welles' tyrannical general.

Tickets for preview performances are $45. Post-opening, all tickets will be $55. Tickets may be arranged through Telecharge at or (212) 239-6200.

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