Tony Award winner Doug Hughes (Doubt, Frozen) directed the work which began previews May 13 and opened June 12 in the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre.
John Glover (Love! Valour! Compassion!), Michele Pawk (Hollywood Arms), Jason Butler Harner (Hedda Gabler) and Daniel Eric Gold (The Singing Forest) also starred in the new drama from the playwright of The Substance of Fire and Chinese Friends.
The Paris Letter centers on the life of a Wall Street hotshot (Rifkin) who struggles to escape a past that he has repressed. As the years wear on, it catches up with him and threatens both his personal and professional lives. The story is introduced and narrated by his lifelong homosexual friend who is armed with the titular piece of mail.
Rifkin — a familiar star of Baitz works such as The Substance of Fire and Three Hotels — headed up the Los Angeles debut cast of the work which also featured Neil Patrick Harris, Lawrence Pressman, Josh Radnor and Patricia Wettig. The Tony Award winner for Cabaret is also known for his television role on "Alias."
Pawk — who played the wife to Rifkin's Sandy Sonenberg — earned a Tony Award for her turn in Hollywood Arms. She has also appeared on Broadway in Chicago, Seussical, Cabaret, Triumph of Love, Crazy for You, Off Broadway in Reefer Madness, Merrily We Roll Along, john & jen and in the staging of A Little Night Music at the New York City and Los Angeles Opera. Other credits include Bounce and the films "Cradle Will Rock" and "Jeffrey." Boston's Huntington Theatre Company commissioned the new work, which was seen in a New York City reading (starring Rifkin with Kate Nelligan and Richard Easton) in December 2003. The drama was also developed at California's Ojai Playwrights Conference.
Originally thought to be Broadway-bound under the auspices of Elizabeth McCann, Scott Rudin and Hal Luftig, the work made its world premiere in Culver City, California at the new Kirk Douglas Theater Dec. 5, 2004-Jan. 2, 2005.
The design team for The Paris Letter includes John Lee Beatty (sets), Catherine Zuber (costumes), Peter Kaczorowski (lights) and David Van Tieghem (sound) — who also provides original compositions.
Baitz also penned the adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler used in the 2001 Broadway revival. His Ten Unknowns was produced by Lincoln Center Theatre, which also presented the scribe's A Fair Country and The Substance of Fire. Other works include Mizlansky/Zilinsky or 'Schmucks,' Three Hotels and The Film Society.
The new work — which contains nudity, strong language, gunshots and smoking onstage — is recommended for mature audiences only.
The Paris Letter performs at the Laura Pels Theatre, located at 111 West 46th Street. For more information, go online to www.roundabouttheatre.org.