×

Starry Off Broadway Casts Give Rialto a Run for Its Money

Ed Harris, Bill Pullman, Maggie Gyllenhaal sign up for gigs beyond Broadway

As underscored by the recent addition of Off Broadway gigs for Ed Harris and Bill Pullman, the familiar faces won’t just be showing up on Broadway next season: Off Broadway’s 2013-14 lineup has shaped up to include parts for recognizable thesps including Maggie Gyllenhaal and Mandy Patinkin, all jostling for attention with a Rialto season that already includes Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, Orlando Bloom, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Ethan Hawke and Billy Crystal.

The Off Broadway audience doesn’t entirely overlap with the demo that turns out for Broadway, which is made up of a hefty chunk of tourists who don’t often venture Off Broadway. Still, the flurry of notable names on the roster for next season, both on Broadway and off it, looks poised to force Gotham’s legit avids into some tough ticketbuying decisions.

Harris and Pullman will join Amy Madigan and Glenne Headley in reprising their roles in “The Jacksonian,” the new Beth Henley play that bowed at L.A.’s Geffen Playhouse last year. Directed by Robert Falls, a.d. of Chicago’s Goodman Theater, “The Jacksonian” is lined up for a fall run in New York as part of season slate of Off Broadway’s New Group. A darkly comic tale about a dentist whose estrangement from his wife leads him to move into a seedy hotel, the play will precede the New Group’s world preem of the latest by scribe-provocateur Thomas Bradshaw, “Intimacy,” directed by the company’s a.d., Scott Elliott.

Gyllenhaal, who’s appeared in Off Broadway revivals of “Three Sisters” and “Uncle Vanya,” will take on a contempo role in “The Village Bike,” the Brit play that won U.K. accolades when it bowed at the Royal Court in 2011. Penned by Penelope Skinner (recently tapped to write pic “Mary Stuart” for helmer Susanne Bier), the storyline follows a sexually frustrated pregnant woman whose unresponsive husband drives her to seek attention elsewhere.

The show’s U.S. bow, directed by Sam Gold and opening in June 2014, will wrap up the coming season at MCC Theater, which also has set a return run of Robert Askins’ “Hand to God” following a 2011 debut that earned raves at Ensemble Studio Theater. That show, set for a spring run and featuring original thesp Steven Boyer, joins an MCC season that already includes Mary-Louise Parker topliner “The Snow Geese,” bowing on Broadway in a co-production with Manhattan Theater Club, and a fall run for John Pollono’s “Small Engine Repair.”

Patinkin, meanwhile, becomes the latest well-known thesp to appear at Classic Stage Company, the Off Broadway troupe that has attracted increasing attention in recent seasons with its starry casting. Patinkin will co-star with downtown legiter Taylor Mac in “The Last Two People on Earth: An Apocalyptic Vaudeville,” in which two end-of-the-world survivors communicate through song-and-dance.

Susan Stroman will direct and choreograph the December opener, making it her third project next season after the Broadway opening of “Big Fish” earlier in the fall and “Bullets Over Broadway” in the spring.

CSC also will re-team a.d. Brian Kulick with composer Duncan Sheik (“Spring Awakening”) — whose current collaboration, “The Caucasian Chalk Circle,” is now playing at CSC — for a production of Bertolt Brecht farce “A Man’s a Man,” while David Ives will adapt Jean-Francois Regnard’s comedy “The Heir Apparent” in a staging from John Rando (“A Christmas Story”). Another of Ives’ adaptations, “Venus in Fur,” bowed at CSC before going on to a Tony-winning Broadway run.

In addition, the theater has booked thesp Finn Wittrock, who gave a well-received perf in the recent Rialto revival of “Death of a Salesman,” to star alongside Elizabeth Olsen in the previously announced production of “Romeo and Juliet.” The show’s run will overlap with another starry production of the teen romance starring Bloom and Condola Rashad on Broadway.

As the past season on the Rialto illustrates, not every star-driven production manages to attract crowds, especially in a competitive lineup packed with a number of high-profile thesps. But because the productions on tap for MCC, CSC and New Group are produced by non-profit orgs, the shows are free of many of the financial pressures that can put the squeeze on commercial titles.

Popular on Variety

More Legit

  • Sam Rockwell and Laurence Fishburne

    Sam Rockwell, Laurence Fishburne Starring in Broadway Revival of 'American Buffalo'

    Laurence Fishburne and Sam Rockwell will star in an upcoming Broadway revival of David Mamet’s “American Buffalo.” The show marks Rockwell’s first appearance on the Great White Way since his 2014 performance in the revival of Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love.” The five-year absence saw him pick up an Oscar for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, [...]

  • Secret Derren Brown review

    Broadway Review: 'Derren Brown: Secret'

    Audiences love to be fooled, whether it’s with clever plotting with a twist, the arrival of an unexpected character or even a charming flimflam man with a British accent. The latter is Derren Brown, and he’s entertaining audiences for a limited run at the Cort Theatre, where he is playing head-scratching mind games and other [...]

  • Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica ParkerNew York

    Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker to Reunite on Broadway for 'Plaza Suite'

    Real-life couple Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker are hitting the Broadway stage again for a reboot of the late Neil Simon’s 1968 play “Plaza Suite.” The staging will mark the Broadway directorial debut of Tony award-winner John Benjamin Hickey. Set in New York City’s Plaza Hotel in Suite 719, “Plaza Suite” is comprised of [...]

  • Derren Brown

    Listen: Derren Brown Spills His Broadway 'Secret'

    Derren Brown has spent a lot of his career performing magic shows on theater stages — but he’ll be the first to tell you that magic usually doesn’t make for great theater. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “If you’re a magician of any sort, you can make stuff happen with a click of your [...]

  • A Very Expensive Poison review

    London Theater Review: 'A Very Expensive Poison'

    Vladimir Putin owes his power to the stage. The president’s closest advisor trained as a theatre director before applying his art to politics, and ran Russia like a staged reality, spinning so many fictions that truth itself began to blur. By scrambling the story and sowing confusion, Putin could exert absolute control. The long-awaited latest [...]

  • Betrayal review Tom Hiddleston

    Broadway Review: 'Betrayal' With Tom Hiddleston

    and Zawe Ashton as a long-married couple and Charlie Cox as the secret lover. Director Jamie Lloyd’s impeccable direction — now on Broadway, after a hot-ticket London run — strips Pinter’s 1978 play to its bare bones: the excruciating examination of the slow death of a marriage.  It’s a daring approach, leaving the characters nowhere [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content