If anyone can find laughs in the wake of bloody revenge, filicide and cannibalism, it's Nathan Lane and Andrea Martin.
The Broadway favorites, who have five Tony Awards between them, will co-star this season in Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus, a new comedy to be directed by George C. Wolfe, who has five Tonys of his own.
The production will mark the highly anticipated Broadway playwriting debut of Taylor Mac, the visionary theater artist and MacArthur "Genius" Grant recipient whose kaleidoscopic marathon of American cultural events, A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, has drawn rapturous reviews across the country and internationally, landing on the Pulitzer Prize shortlist.
The gender-transcending Mac (preferred pronoun: judy) uses Shakespeare's first tragedy as a jumping-off point for a comedy set in 400 B.C., during the fall of the Roman Empire, when civil war has ended and the country is in the hands of madmen. Casualties are everywhere, and two lowly servants to be played by Lane and Martin are charged with cleaning up the corpses.
Scott Rudin is lead producer on the play, which will begin previews March 5 at the Booth Theatre, ahead of an April 11 official opening. After last season's anemic crop of new plays, Mac joins a promising roster of work from both Broadway newcomers and veterans in the 2018-19 theater season.
"It's a very, very funny and very, very political new play," Rudin told The Hollywood Reporter. "And it's that rare thing that's almost impossible to find, something genuinely disruptive that is also simply a blast. Taylor has — as anybody knows who has seen 24 Decade — a remarkable theatrical imagination and a deeply original idea of what theatrical language can be."
Wolfe, as always, has assembled a deluxe creative team, including set designer Santo Loquasto, costume designer Ann Roth and lighting designers Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, all of whom worked with the director and Rudin on last season's revival of The Iceman Cometh, with Denzel Washington. Additional casting on Gary is to be announced.
Martin was last on Broadway in the 2016 revival of Noises Off. She won Tonys in 1993 for My Favorite Year and in 2013 for Pippin. Lane recently wrapped an acclaimed run in Angels in America, which earned him his third Tony, having won previously in 1996 for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and in 2001 for The Producers.
"It's got a huge, bravura part for Nathan that wants 100 percent of what he brings with him," added Rudin of the new play. "It's a very fresh piece of work with a wonderful team of collaborators who all jumped in based on their feeling for the play and for each other. I think it can be both special and surprising. It's the definition of a one-off in every possible way."