Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ruhl's next room will be the Lyceum

Congratulations to playwright Sarah Ruhl, who will finally be making her Broadway debut this fall. In the Next Room or the vibrator play, produced by the Lincoln Center Theater, will begin previews at the Lyceum Theatre Oct. 22 and open on Nov. 19.

The announcement attracted my attention because it comes on the heels of a recent study about the lack of opportunities for female playwrights. (For a great follow-up discussion with artistic directors, check out Kris Vire's blog post at Time Out Chicago.)

Ruhl is the recipient of a "genius grant" from the MacArthur Foundation, which referred to her as a young playwright who is "emerging as a powerful presence in the American theater." I'm not saying being on Broadway is the end all and be all if you're an American playwright but I bet it's pretty thrilling. And I'm glad she's getting this opportunity.

In the Next Room, set in the twilight of the Victorian era, had its premiere earlier this year at the Berkeley Rep. It "illuminates the lives of six lonely people seeking relief from a local doctor — but, despite his expertise with a strange new technology, all they really need is intimacy."

And the play garnered some acclaim during its West Coast run.

In his New York Times review, Charles Isherwood called In the Next Room "a spirited and stimulating new comedy from one of the country's brightest young playwrights." In the Los Angeles Times, Charles McNulty wrote about his dislike for the ending but felt that the play "still has the potential to be a modern masterpiece."

I became a fan of Ruhl's after seeing her very funny play The Clean House at Trinity Repertory Company a couple of seasons ago. And I'm looking forward to Dead Man's Cell Phone next season.

I know it's tough for a new play on Broadway without any "stars" in the cast. But presumably, In the Next Room won't be under as much pressure since Lincoln Center has a base of subscribers, who'll see it as part of a package. Also, since it isn't transferring from off-Broadway, I'm hoping plenty of Ruhl's fans will be lining up to see the play, too.

Update: Laura Benanti, who blew me away with her Tony-winning performance as Louise in Gypsy, and Michael Cerveris have been cast in the play. So that makes me even more intrigued.


Monica said...

Um, Charles Isherwood writes reviews for The New York Times, not Christopher Isherwood. Although, sometimes The New York Times doesn't even seem aware of this.

Esther said...

Thanks, Monica! That's what I get for blogging at night after a long day at work. ;-)