A COVER STORY: The Road to Mecca

News   A COVER STORY: The Road to Mecca
Roundabout Theatre Company will produce the Broadway premiere of Athol Fugard's The Road to Mecca, his three-actor play about an expressive, inspirational South African woman. The staging, to begin previews Dec. 16, will star Tony Award winner Rosemary Harris, Tony winner Jim Dale and Carla Gugino.

Gordon Edelstein (Roundabout's 2010 production of The Glass Menagerie) will direct the play by Special Lifetime Achievement Tony Award winner Fugard, the major playwright of South Africa, known for Master Harold…and the Boys (which Roundabout produced a revival of in 2003), Blood Knot, My Children! My Africa!, Exits and Entrances, The Island, Boesman and Lena and more. Fugard, an actor, playwright and director, turns 80 in 2012.

The Road to Mecca will begin previews on Dec. 16 at the American Airlines Theatre and open officially on Jan. 17, 2012. The limited engagement will play through March 4, 2012.

Fugard directed the world premiere production of The Road to Mecca at the National Theatre in London, and later at the Promenade Theatre Off-Broadway. He played the role of Marius Byleveld in both productions. The play won the 1988 Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Foreign Play.

Here's how Roundabout Theatre Company bills The Road to Mecca: "Set in the region of South Africa known as the Karoo, The Road to Mecca tells the story of an elderly woman who has spent the years since her husband's death transforming her home into an intricate and dazzling work of art. The reclusive Miss Helen (Rosemary Harris) has become depressed and appears increasingly unable to care for herself. Pastor Marius Byleveld, who embodies the village's conservative values, is determined to get Miss Helen into an old-age home. Her friend Elsa (Carla Gugino), a young teacher from Cape Town who is deeply suspicious of the patriarchal traditions Byleveld represents, is just as determined that Miss Helen remain free."

The design team includes Michael Yeargan (sets), Susan Hilferty (costumes) and John Gromada (original music and sound design). Roundabout's production of The Road to Mecca is by special arrangement with Off-Broadway's Signature Theatre Company, which is devoting its 2012 season to the works of Fugard. Signature will christen its new home, Signature Center, with Fugard as its inaugural "Residency One" playwright. Residency One is Signature's core one-year playwright-in-residence program that produces a series of plays from the body of work of one accomplished writer.

Harris was last seen on the Roundabout stage in Edward Albee's All Over (2002). She was nominated for a 2010 Tony for her turn in The Royal Family. Gugino made her Broadway debut at Roundabout in Arthur Miller's After the Fall (2004) and returned to star in Tennessee Williams' Suddenly Last Summer (2006). She also starred in a revival of Desire Under the Elms. Dale received Tony Award nominations for both of his performances at Roundabout: Joe Egg (1985) and The Threepenny Opera (2006). He won the Best Actor in a Musical Tony playing the title character in Barnum.

Visit www.roundabouttheatre.org.

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