ROUNDABOUT BLOG

2016-2017 Season

 

The-Cherry-Orchard_300x300On September 15, 2016, The Cherry Orchard will begin performances at the American Airlines Theatre as part of Roundabout’s 50th Anniversary season.

It’s been more than a decade since Roundabout tackled one of the great works of Anton Chekhov, a writer whose work is notoriously tricky. Even Chekhov himself was rarely happy with productions of his plays. He nearly left the field of playwriting entirely when his first major piece, The Seagull, was met with a poor reception back in 1896. Chekhov even wrote to a friend, “Stop the printing of the plays…I shall never either write plays or have them acted.” Thankfully for the future of modern theatre, everything changed two years later, when the Moscow Art Theatre put up a new production of The Seagull that became widely acclaimed. So what happened in those intervening years to bring about such a different reaction to the exact same play?

The answer lies not in the play itself but in how it was being performed. Chekhov was one of early naturalist writers, steering away from plot-driven narratives and clear-cut heroes and villains. Instead, in an attempt to reflect the kinds of speech and movement found in everyday life, he focused on a wide swath of characters, each of them deeply complex. He placed them in everyday locations. And it was from the subtleties of the gently shifting relationships among these characters that plot slowly emerged. The Moscow Art Theatre, under the leadership of Constantin Stanislavski, embraced this new style of writing with a new style of acting, one that was revolutionary for its time but has since become the norm on our stages today. Stanislavski encouraged the playing of subtext, of examining not just what is happening on the line itself, but in the pauses between lines or single words, all of which could have deep meaning. (Granted, Chekhov was such a perfectionist that even Stanislavski couldn’t always please him – Anton complained that there was far too much crying in his friend’s production of The Cherry Orchard.)

It’s amazing to think that what we now see on our stages every day was so shocking and new in Chekhov’s time. Even the idea of putting lower class characters in a play and developing them into fully realized people was seen as revolutionary. The idea that audiences would want to watch those less fortunate than themselves or be asked to think about social change was unheard of. Chekhov was ahead of his time, certainly, but his legacy has had incredible impact.

While many writers have been influenced by Chekhov’s bold leap into subtlety, I think it’s fair to say that one of his truest heirs is Stephen Karam, which is why I asked Stephen to write the new version of The Cherry Orchard that you’ll be seeing. As he demonstrated so beautifully in his plays Speech & Debate, Sons of the Prophet, and the Tony-winning The Humans, Stephen has a particular ability to create complicated characters who move forward through life not through one dramatic act but through a series of subtle changes. There’s something about the quiet suffering and natural humor of his work that makes Stephen an utterly perfect fit for translating Chekhov. Without any kind of radical modernization, he has been able to bring The Cherry Orchard to life in a way that feels true to Chekhov’s 1904 original and yet exactly right for a 21st Century America.

This combining of the classic and the new is precisely what I love to do at Roundabout, and I think you will find this Cherry Orchard, with a superb cast under the direction of Simon Godwin, to be a wonderful example of naturalism at its best. As always, I am eager to hear your thoughts, so please continue to email me throughout this 50th Anniversary season at artisticoffice@roundabouttheatre.org. I can’t tell you how greatly I value your feedback.

I look forward to seeing you at the theatre!

Sincerely,

Todd Haimes
Artistic Director


Related Categories:
2016-2017 Season, The Cherry Orchard


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Just Announced: Marvin’s Room

Posted on: September 6th, 2016 by Todd Haimes

 

Marvin's RoomI am thrilled to share the title of our third and final show in the American Airlines Theatre next season. Anne Kauffman will be making her Roundabout debut directing the late Scott McPherson's Marvin's Room. This marvelous play, which had an award-winning run off-Broadway in the early 90s, has never before been seen on Broadway. You may be familiar with the play’s 1996 film adaptation (also penned by McPherson), which was directed by Jerry Zaks and starred Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, Diane Keaton, and Robert De Niro. The film was nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and three Screen Actors Guild Awards.

I am honored to host the Broadway premiere of Marvin’s Room at Roundabout under the stellar direction of Anne, whose credits include productions at Playwrights Horizons, MCC, Vineyard Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and many others. She has directed plays by the likes of Amy Herzog, Lisa D’Amour, Greg Pierce, Noah Haidle, and Jordan Harrison, and she is the recipient of an OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence of Direction. We are excited to welcome Anne to the Roundabout stage.

Previews are scheduled to begin June 8, 2017.


Related Categories:
2016-2017 Season, Marvin's Room


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HYN-0007F-StandardArtFiles-640x640px-V2On September 1, Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical begins previews at Studio 54. The title itself should tell you that the show is a fascinating combination of old and new. Yes, this is a brand new musical, but yes, it also has a score by none other than the great Irving Berlin, who did most of his songwriting in the first half of the 20th century. So how did these classic and brand-new elements come together in this way?

Holiday Inn originated as a musical film in 1942, and, importantly, the movie would have significance beyond its huge box office success. The attack on Pearl Harbor came in the middle of shooting, and the film would be released to an American public coming to terms with a world at war. In many ways, Holiday Inn became a tonic for these difficult times, offering an escape from the serious cares of life through song and dance that celebrated the best days of the year, the holidays in which we all come together with loved ones. In fact, the biggest hit from Berlin’s score was “White Christmas,” a song with the simplest of melodies and lyrics, which resonated deeply with a public thinking about their sons fighting abroad, yearning for a holiday at home “just like the ones I used to know.”

Today, with the advantage of more than 70 years of distance, we are able to look at Holiday Inn with new eyes. While fans of the original film will see their favorite moments and hear their favorite songs, writers Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge have updated the story and humor for today’s audiences, with the added bonus of including even more Irving Berlin classic songs, from “Blue Skies” to “Cheek to Cheek.” And as you’re tapping your toes at this joyful production, I hope you’ll see that the piece still provides that same tonic it was for moviegoers back in 1942. With high spirits and romance to spare, Holiday Inn does something that musicals do better than perhaps any other form – they bring a smile to our face and allow us to forget reality, even for just a couple of hours.

I know you will have a wonderful time taking a trip with us to Holiday Inn, rejoicing in the high-energy song and dance and relishing the story of love and friendship at its heart. As always, I am eager to hear your thoughts, so please continue to email me throughout this 50th Anniversary season at artisticoffice@roundabouttheatre.org. I can’t tell you how greatly I value your feedback.

I look forward to seeing you at the theatre!

Sincerely,

Todd Haimes
Artistic Director


Related Categories:
2016-2017 Season, From Todd Haimes, Holiday Inn


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