'A Confederacy of Dunces' With Nick Offerman to Premiere in Boston

Nick Offerman Wittels Letter- H 2015
AP Images/Invision

Nick Offerman Wittels Letter- H 2015

The 'Parks and Recreation' star will play the beleaguered antihero of John Kennedy Toole's cult novel in a stage adaptation by Jeffrey Hatcher.

New Orleans comes to Boston next winter, when the bilious scourge of the French Quarter, Ignatius J. Reilly, takes to the Huntington Theatre Company stage in the world premiere of Jeffrey Hatcher's adaptation of A Confederacy of Dunces.

The theatrical version of John Kennedy Toole's posthumously published, Pulitzer Prize-winning cult novel will star Parks and Recreation regular Nick Offerman, who previously played the role in a New York industry workshop last April.

The Huntington staging follows decades of abortive attempts to get momentum behind a screen adaptation of the novel. The beloved book about the farcical odyssey of a pompous, overweight misfit in early-1960s New Orleans had bumped around Hollywood with various directors, writers and producers attached — among them David Gordon Green, Steven Soderbergh, Scott Kramer, Drew Barrymore, Nancy Juvonen and Scott Rudin.

Philip Seymour Hoffman was once at the center of discussions to play Ignatius, while Will Ferrell took the role in a 2003 reading of the project at the Nantucket Film Festival, directed by Green. However, the screen version never got off the ground.

Read more Nick Offerman to Rule 'Confederacy of Dunces'

Soderbergh remains involved as a producer of Hatcher’s stage adaptation, along with Robert Guza, John Hardy and LSU Press, which published the novel in 1980, 11 years after Toole's suicide.

"Adapting John Kennedy Toole's Confederacy of Dunces into a play has been like wrestling Ignatius Reilly to the stage," said Hatcher. "The book is famously a picaresque, episodic and digressive, but the digressions are often the point. What I think we've arrived at is a play that focuses on the characters — Ignatius; his mother, Mrs. Reilly; Burma Jones; Myrna Minkoff — without losing any of the book's color and atmosphere and humor." 

David Esbjornson, who also staged last year's workshop, will direct the Huntington production, which is believed to be eyeing a subsequent Broadway berth, depending on its critical and commercial reception. The Boston engagement is scheduled to run Nov. 11 through Dec. 13.

Additional casting is to be announced.