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Broadway's 'Orphans' Pushes Back Opening Night

Disruption to the rehearsal schedule caused by the abrupt exit of Shia LaBeouf and his replacement by Ben Foster has prompted the production to postpone its opening to April 18.

Alec Baldwin, Ben Foster and Tom Sturridge in "Orphans"
Contour/Getty Images/Courtesy of Boneau/Bryan-Brown

NEW YORK -- Following the cast shake-up with the departure of Shia LaBeouf and the arrival of Ben Foster in one of the three-character play's co-starring roles, the Broadway production of Lyle Kessler's Orphans has delayed its start of previews by a week and its opening night by 11 days.

Originally slated to begin preview performances March 19, with official opening set for April 7, the show will now have its first public performance at the Gerald Schoenfeid Theatre on March 26. Its opening has been pushed back to April 18.

The production made news Feb. 20 when the abrupt exit was announced of LaBeouf, who was scheduled to make his Broadway debut in the play. "Creative differences" were cited as the cause. E-mails between the actor and his co-star Alec Baldwin and director Daniel Sullivan appeared on LaBeouf's Twitter feed soon after the announcement, suggesting a clash of personalities and acting approaches during rehearsals.

Foster, who reportedly had been Sullivan's second choice for the role, was announced the following day as LaBeouf's replacement. Baldwin and Foster will star alongside Tom Sturridge in the drama, which revolves around two orphaned brothers living in a North Philadelphia row house who kidnap a wealthy older man with mysterious motives of his own.

The date change creates a pileup of openings on April 18. In general, Broadway shows tend to avoid sharing opening nights with other productions given that they inevitably will be competing for review space and other coverage in New York dailies and national news media.

However, the move now puts Orphans' official bow the same night as the musical revival Jekyll & Hyde starring Constantine Maroulis at the Marquis Theatre; as well as The Rascals: Once Upon a Dream, the musical/concert hybrid reuniting the 1960s blue-eyed soul band, at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.

Broadway invariably experiences a logjam of spring openings before the cutoff for Tony Awards eligibility at the end of April. This year, 15 shows are scheduled to bow over that crowded four-week period.

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