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Broadway Plans for 'Clybourne Park' Move Forward Despite Scott Rudin's Departure

Jordan Roth, head of Broadway's Jujamcyn Group, confirms that a spring transfer of the Bruce Norris Pulitzer Prize-winning play remains on track after the withdrawal of its lead producer.
Scott Rudin
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NEW YORK – Despite the abrupt exit of its lead producer, Scott Rudin, the Broadway transfer of actor-playwright Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer-winning satirical drama Clybourne Park will go ahead this spring as planned.

The move was confirmed Friday in a statement from Jordan Roth, president of Jujamcyn Theaters, the group of Broadway houses that includes the Walter Kerr Theatre, where Clybourne Park had been slated to open in April.

“It is a true privilege for all of us at Jujamcyn to bring such a fiercely provocative and wildly funny work to Broadway audiences,” said Roth. “Clybourne Park is on. We’ll see you there!”

Roth is understood to be marshaling investors to finance the modestly budgeted production, estimated in the $2.5 million range. The new producing team and dates for the Broadway run are expected to be announced shortly.

Rudin and his frequent producing partner Stuart Thompson stepped away from Clybourne Park this week after a falling out with Norris over his withdrawal from the HBO series, The Corrections. That adaptation of Jonathan Franzen’s novel is being produced by Rudin. Noah Baumbach is co-writing the first season with Franzen; he will direct the pilot and is expected to be a regular director on the series.

Norris said that while he was honored to be considered for a central role in The Corrections, he felt compelled to focus on his writing career, and not acting, at this time. However, Rudin’s take on the decision points to unprofessional behavior on Norris’ part, prompting him to drop not only Clybourne Park, but also his involvement in another Norris play, A Parallelogram, as well as a commissioned work.

“Bruce Norris came in twice to audition for The Corrections and subsequently spent many months negotiating every point in a four-year agreement to appear in the show,” said Rudin in a statement. “Mr. Norris called to tell me – after every issue had been resolved in his favor – that he had decided not to appear in the show, and had in fact during the negotiation made a series of what he termed ‘more and more outrageous demands’ in the hope that we would turn him down and that he would not have to face the responsibility of reneging on a commitment he made.”

“I think he’s a wonderful playwright, and an equally wonderful actor,” continued Rudin. “But I am unwilling to support or de facto condone this behavior and have decided not to proceed with Clybourne Park, or A Parallelogram, or with the production of a new play I commissioned from Mr. Norris. I look forward to seeing his next play as a member of the paying audience. Clybourne Park is a fabulous play and I hope Bruce finds somebody else to produce it. I have encouraged our investors to stay with the play. It deserves to be seen on Broadway.”

Clybourne Park is currently running at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in a production directed by Pam MacKinnon, which is expected to transfer intact to Broadway. A sly rumination on race relations in America, the play takes place in 1959 and 2009; it charts a half-century of socioeconomic shifts in the fictitious Chicago neighborhood that was the upwardly-mobile dream destination of Lorraine Hansbury's Southside black family in her landmark 1959 drama, A Raisin in the Sun.

Premiered Off Broadway in 2010 at Playwrights Horizons, Norris' play won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It also won the 2011 Olivier Award (Britain's equivalent of the Tony) after a sell-out production at London's Royal Court Theatre, which garnered rave reviews.

Provided investors come forward in time, Clybourne Park would appear to be well-positioned in the best play race of the 2012 Tony Awards, its chief competition to date this season being Jon Robin Baitz's Other Desert Cities.

Rudin's recent Broadway productions include the Tony-winning smash The Book of Mormon and the 2010 production of August Wilson's Fences, which earned Tony Awards for best revival, lead actor Denzel Washington and lead actress Viola Davis. Next up, Rudin is producing a Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, directed by Mike Nichols and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Linda Emond and Andrew Garfield. That production begins previews Feb. 13 for a March 15 opening at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.

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