Scheduling conflict to blame for Off B'way delay

A perceived split between Off Broadway’s MCC Theater and the org’s longtime writer-in-residence Neil LaBute appears to amount to little more than a production delayed for scheduling reasons.

A previously announced staging of LaBute’s play “The Break of Noon” did not appear as part of MCC’s recent announcement of its 2009-10 season, spurring speculation in print that LaBute and MCC — whose production of the scribe’s “Reasons to Be Pretty” recently ended a critically lauded but sales-challenged Broadway transfer — were parting ways.

But according to MCC exec director Blake West, the failure of “Noon” to materialize in the season is attributable to issues of timing and scheduling.

“There’s no official change in our relationship with Neil as playwright-in-residence,” he added.

That seems to jibe with LaBute’s take on the situation, with the scribe reportedly referring to it as a “scheduling thing.”

MCC has produced six LaBute plays in recent years, including “Fat Pig,” “Some Girl(s)” and “The Mercy Seat.” “Break of Noon” had originally been set to bow early this year, but was pushed back due to the impending Broadway transfer of “Reasons,” which LaBute revised in preparation for the Rialto opening.

The initial postponement of “Noon” included a target date of September for the later run. Earlier this week, however, MCC announced the season would kick off Sept. 16 with a production of Alexander Dinelaris’ “Still Life.”

West said the decision not to stage “Noon” this season arose from a variety of factors, including the amount of time LaBute had so far to work on the play and the exigencies of their overall season sked.

“We still hope that in the future it will be produced here at MCC at some point,” he added.

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