Keith David is Othello, Liev Schreiber is Iago, Becky Ann Baker is Emilia, Kate Forbes is Desdemona, Jay Goede is Cassio and Christopher Evan Welch is Roderigo, and they all, as usual, come to a bad end (injured, tortured or dead), in the new Off-Broadway mounting of Shakespeare's most compact tragedy, Othello, at the Public Theatre, due to begin Nov. 20 for a run through Dec. 30.
Doug Hughes (An Experiment with an Air Pump, Lake Hollywood) will direct the tragedy, in which the famed and valiant Moor military hero wins the beautiful Venetian Desdemona as his wife, only to have his lieutenant Iago sow the seeds of heedless jealousy in his mind with a few insinuating words and a stolen handkerchief. Hughes replaces the originally announced Mark Lamos.
Box office has been good, with viewers already talking up Schreiber's Iago as a standout performance. Schreiber is becoming a New York stage regular. He starred as Hamlet in the Andrei Serban production at the Public almost exactly two years ago. And last season, he acted with Juliette Binoche in Harold Pinter's Betrayal at the Roundabout Theatre Company. Schreiber emerged as an alternative film mainstay in the mid 90s. Among his indy credits are "Daytrippers," "Walking and Talking" and the film "Hamlet" starring Ethan Hawke, in which he played Laertes (the movie was released around the same time he was playing the Dane on stage).
Keith David appeared in two Public Theater productions in the last season alone: David Grimm's Kit Marlowe and A Winter's Tale in Central Park. On Broadway, he starred in Seven Guitars and Jelly's Last Jam.
Baker, wife of actor Dylan Baker, appeared in the new A.R. Gurney comedy Buffalo Gal at the Williamstown Theatre Festival this past summer. Her New York credits include Titanic, June Moon and The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told. Forbes has appeared on Broadway in The School For Scandal , Inherit the Wind and in last year's notorious flop production of Macbeth, starring Kelsey Grammer, in which she played Lady Macduff. Goede may be best known to Broadway audiences from his appearance in the short-lived Christopher Durang comedy Sex and Longing. Since then, he has starred in several regional productions and starred alongside Baker in Most Fabulous Story. Like Schreiber and David, Welch is accustomed to playing Shakespeare at the Public—he recently performed in Mary Zimmerman's Measure for Measure in Central Park.
The cast is completed by Remy Auberjonois, Paul Vincent Black, Gregory Derelian, Mark H. Dold, George Morfogen (Duke of Venice), Natacha Roi (Bianca), Jack Ryland (Barbantio), Thomas Schall (Gratiano), Thom Sesma (Montano) and Dan Snook.
Roughly a decade ago, the Public Theater presented Othello in Central Park. Raul Julia played the title role, Christopher Walken was Iago and Mary Beth Hurt was Emilia.
Opening the Public Theater's 2001-02 season was Elaine Stritch's autobiographical show Elaine Strich: At Liberty. The show, a hit, has since extended through the end of the year and will soon transfer to Broadway.