Altman resurrects ‘Blues’ in Blighty

Campbell, Modine, Schell to star in Miller play

Robert Altman will direct Arthur Miller’s satirical black comedy “Resurrection Blues” at London’s Old Vic Theater. Scott Griffin is producing.

Helmer has set Jane Adams, Neve Campbell, Peter McDonald, Matthew Modine, Maximilian Schell and John Wood to star in the play, which starts previews Feb. 14 for a March 2 opening night; it runs through April 22.

Set in the mountains of a South American banana republic that is on the cusp of revolution, “Resurrection Blues” revolves around the imminent execution of a messiah-like rebel leader. A Gotham-based production company rushes to the site to televise the crucifixion of the leader.

Though its themes of misguided global politics and predatory media outlets seem timely, Miller wrote the play in 1999 and trotted it out twice before, only to pull it back each time for major rewrites. The first time, he rushed the play after being coaxed by friends seeking to pull him out of his grief at the death of his wife, photographer Inge Morath. Disappointed with the result when it first opened in Minneapolis, Miller rewrote it and tried again in San Diego.

Griffin, who was brought on by Miller after that second stint, said the playwright honed the play right up until his death early last year.

“We had a reading with Nathan Lane, Bill Murray (and) Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and you could see the difference in how the black comic elements were coming into play,” Griffin said. “He just wasn’t ready before that, and Arthur spent the last year and a half singularly focused on making sure the play was exactly the way he wanted it. When I asked jokingly if this was his farewell to the world, he said, ‘Parting shot, my friend, parting shot.’ ”

Altman agreed to direct it after he wrapped feature “A Prairie Home Companion.”

Campbell starred in Altman’s pic “The Company,” while Modine was in his “Short Cuts.” Modine also appeared in Miller’s “Finishing the Picture” in Chi in 2004.

Griffin said Kevin Spacey and his Old Vic team offered their storied theater as a launch pad. The producer said the hope is to bring the show to Broadway.

“Our intention is to come to the U.S. and we’ve been offered a Broadway theater already,” Griffin said. “We want to know what we’ve got before we figure out where we’re going.”

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