The bad news is it won’t happen this summer. The good news is that three stars are officially on board.
The Public Theater Shakespeare-in-the-Park production of The Seagull, starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline, will not occur until the summer of 2001. A spokesman for the theatre told Playbill On-Line (March 24) that an attempt was made to assemble the cast and crew in time for this summer, but to no avail. However, Streep and Kline -- whose involvement in the project was first reported on Playbill On-Line -- are now officially committed to the project, as is Natalie Portman.
The new Seagull began with a recent reading of Chekhov's classic held in Mike Nichols' Manhattan apartment, starring Streep and Kline. Streep will play Arkadina to Kline's Trigorin. Mike Nichols will direct.
Portman, whose movie roles include "Star Wars, Episode I: the Phantom Menace" and "Anywhere but Here," will play the pivotal role of Nina. Her last stage work was as the titular heroine in the first Broadway revival of The Diary of Anne Frank.
Wes Bentley, of the film "American Beauty," is also reportedly being sought for the production. *
Nichols, Streep and Kline have all been absent from the New York stage for some years. Though Nichols has "supervised" various plays, his last theatre assignment as director was Death and the Maiden. Streep, meanwhile, has been missing from the theatre for even longer. During the 1970s, she appeared in New York City stagings of The Cherry Orchard, Happy End and Taming of the Shrew. The winner of two Oscars, she was recently nominated for another for "Music of the Heart."
Kline has been slightly more faithful to the boards. Since taking the Tony for The Pirates of Penzance, he has appeared in Hamlet at the Public and, most recently, Ivanov at Lincoln Center Theatre.
The production will take place in Central Park's Delacorte Theatre. Dates and additional casting have not been established.
No word yet on what production will replace The Seagull this summer, though that news is expected by the end of March.
--By Robert Simonson
and David Lefkowitz