Director Jack O'Brien currently has a new Broadway production. He also is in rehearsal with another Broadway venture. This is not surprising; Mr. O'Brien is one of the busiest theatre directors in America. What is unusual is that the show in performance and the one in rehearsal are the same play.
Well, sort of. Mr. O'Brien is in the midst of a six-month commitment to the American premiere of "The Coast of Utopia," Tom Stoppard's heady three-part examination of 19th-century Russian thinkers. The first part, "Voyage," began previews October 17 and will open November 27. Meanwhile, rehearsals began on November 2 for the second section, "Shipwreck," which will start previews December 5.
"The first one hasn't really been seen by the press and we're already starting work on the second," Mr. O'Brien said. Despite his pressing situation, Mr. O'Brien sounded more chipper than anxious. Actually, he sounded chipper and anxious at the same time, and always does. "What was very interesting is we had been all through it in September. We did the text work on all three plays. Then we put that away and went to work on the first one."
All those "we's" refer to his 44-member cast, a gathering the size of which no other Broadway play and few musicals can boast. "[Director and choreographer] Jerry Mitchell and I are laughing about it,"said Mr. O'Brien, mentioning his collaborator on "Hairspray." "He's about to go into rehearsal for the musical ‘Legally Blonde,' and we have more people in ‘The Coast of Utopia!' Unbelievable." (The trilogy's $7.5 million budget is also musical-sized.) [quite a bit more...]
As if anyone needed further proof that celebrities have better things to do on Sunday and stay home and watch football, November 19 was a very starry affair at the theater. The matinee of The Coast of Utopia at the Vivian Beaumont brought out the play's author Sir Tom Stoppard, Caroline Kennedy, Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, actors Phyllis Newman, Linda Emond, Estelle Parsons, Howard McGillin, and Bernard White, producer Margo Lion, and Vineyard Theatre artistic director Doug Aibel.
Happy 19th, C!