The Merchant of Venice, With Al Pacino, Returns to Broadway Feb. 1 | Playbill

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News The Merchant of Venice, With Al Pacino, Returns to Broadway Feb. 1 After a brief hiatus, the acclaimed Broadway revival of The Merchant of Venice, starring Al Pacino and Lily Rabe, resumes performances Feb. 1 at the Broadhurst Theatre.

Al Pacino
Al Pacino Photo by Joan Marcus

Venice went on hiatus Jan. 9 in order to allow Pacino to fulfill prior film commitments. Performances will continue through Feb. 20.

While much of the Broadway cast returns for the extension, Rent actor Jesse L. Martin (who played Gratiano) and Seth Numrich (Lorenzo) have departed the production. Numrich exits Merchant to lead the Broadway production of War Horse for Lincoln Center Theater. Martin's upcoming production commitments precluded him from returning, according to the Public.

David Aaron Baker (Why Torture Is Wrong at the Public) steps into the role of Gratiano, while understudy Thomas Michael Hammond has been moved up to the role of Lorenzo. Actor Brian Sgambati (Prelude to a Kiss at the Huntington) has joined the ensemble.

Pacino stars as Shylock opposite Rabe as Portia in Daniel Sullivan's revival of the classic, which puts a dark spin on the tale of forgiveness, greed, faith and the human hunger for revenge. Merchant has consistently grossed over  $1 million at the box office since it began previews in October. The production also made the New York Times' theatrical top ten list for 2010.

The Broadway company, which reunites members of the Shakespeare in the Park run and new cast members, officially opened Nov. 13. The Merchant cast also includes  Shakespeare in the Park company members Byron Jennings (Inherit the Wind) as Antonio, Heather Lind as Jessica, Gerry Bamman (Mrs. Farnsworth) as the Duke of Venice, Matthew Rauch (Still Life) as Solanio and Richard Topol (Awake and Sing!) as Tubal.

New for the Broadway engagement are Tony Award nominee Christopher Fitzgerald (Finian's Rainbow, Wicked) as Launcelot Gobbo, Marsha Stephanie Blake (Joe Turner's Come and Gone) as Nerissa, David Harbour (The Coast of Utopia) as Bassanio, Peter Francis James (On Golden Pond) as Salerio, Isaiah Johnson as Prince of Morocco and Charles Kimbrough (Accent on Youth) as Prince of Arragon.

Returning ensemble members include Happy Anderson, Liza J. Bennett, Bryce Gill, Jade Hawk, Bethany Heinrich, Tia James, Kelsey Kurz, Brian Macdonald and Dorien Makhloghi. The Broadway run also includes new ensemble members Glenn Fleshler, Luke Forbes, Herb Foster, Thomas M. Hammond, Curt Hostetter, Dorien Makhloghi, Kim Martin-Cotten and Baylen Thomas.

The Broadway run of Merchant reunites the Shakespeare in the Park creative team, including Mark Wendland (scenic design), Jess Goldstein (costume design), Kenneth Posner (lighting design) and Acme Sound Partners (sound design). Dan Moses Schreier penned original music for Merchant of Venice.

Here's how the Public bills the Shakespeare classic: "The Merchant of Venice is one of Shakespeare’s most thrilling and controversial plays, rich with love and betrayal, forgiveness and revenge. The Jewish moneylender Shylock makes a loan to Antonio, a Christian merchant. Their loan contract, steeped in prejudice and centered on the play's infamous 'pound of flesh,' sweeps the two men and everyone in their worlds into chaos. Only the insightful Portia can imagine a way forward, but for her and those she loves, even 'the quality of mercy' has its limits."

Pacino earned a Tony Award for his Broadway debut in Does a Tiger Wear Necktie? and was also honored with a Tony Award for The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel. Pacino starred in the 1996 production of Hughie, which he also directed. In addition to his stage roles in Camino Real, King Richard III, American Buffalo and Chinese Coffee, he is well known for the films "Scent of a Woman" (Academy Award), "The Godfather," "Scarface," "Dog Day Afternoon," "Frankie and Johnny," "Glengarry Glen Ross," "Ocean's Thirteen" and "Angels in America."

For tickets phone (212) 239-6200 or visit The Broadhurst Theatre is located at 235 W. 44th Street.

Marsha Stephanie Blake, Lily Rabe and company
Marsha Stephanie Blake, Lily Rabe and company Photo by Joan Marcus

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