Denzel Washington to Star in Broadway's 'Iceman Cometh' Revival

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Denzel Washington

Tony winner George C. Wolfe will helm the Eugene O'Neill revival in spring 2018, produced by Scott Rudin.

One of Broadway's biggest box-office draws, Denzel Washington, will return next year to star in Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh.

The revival will be produced by Scott Rudin with multiple Tony winner George C. Wolfe taking on directing duties. 

The Iceman Cometh is an epic 1939 drama, first produced in 1946, set in a down-market New York bar and following the circuitous conversations of its go-nowhere patrons. The one bright light in this dim world is the occasional visits of Theodore Hickey, a colorful traveling salesman whose garrulous manner appears to bring some relief from the atmosphere of hopeless desolation and empty dreams. That role will be played by Washington in the new production.

The drama is notoriously known as one of the playwright's most demanding works — requiring stamina from both its actors and audiences — with full stagings running nearly five hours.

The Iceman Cometh debuted on Broadway in 1946, running 136 performances. Since then it has been revived a further three times, with the most recent production in 1999 starring Kevin Spacey as Hickey. The role was originated on Broadway by James Barton, and subsequently played by Jason Robards and James Earl Jones, as well as by Nathan Lane in an acclaimed recent revival that originated at Chicago's Goodman Theatre and played the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2015.

The limited 14-week engagement of the upcoming revival is set for New York's Bernard B. Jacobs Theater. Previews begin March 22 with opening night scheduled for April 26. 

Washington's last starring role on Broadway was in 2014 when he toplined A Raisin in the Sun at the Ethel Barrymore Theater. Prior to that, he appeared in a 2010 revival of August Wilson's Fences, winning the Tony Award for best actor in a play. Both those productions were brought to Broadway by Rudin, who also last year produced Washington's screen version of Fences.

Esteemed veteran Wolfe has been nominated for Tonys as best director eight times, winning in 1993 for Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and in 1996 for Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk. He also has amassed a string of further nominations as writer and producer, the latter during his tenure as artistic director of The Public Theater. Wolfe's last nonmusical play on Broadway was Nora Ephron's posthumously produced Lucky Guy with Tom Hanks in 2013, and his most recent musical was 2016's Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, which also was produced by Rudin.

The Iceman Cometh moves into the vacancy created at the Jacobs Theater by the Sept. 17 closing of the new musical Bandstand. Further casting is to be announced.