Playwright Stephen Karam will make his Broadway debut this season with The Humans, which will transfer in first-quarter 2016 with the cast of its acclaimed off-Broadway production intact.
Lead producer Scott Rudin confirmed the move to The Hollywood Reporter following Sunday’s opening at the Laura Pels Theatre, where Roundabout Theatre Company produced the comedy-drama set during a tense Thanksgiving gathering of a Pennsylvania family in their daughter’s Manhattan apartment.
Writing in The New York Times, Charles Isherwood called the play “quite possibly the finest we will see all season,” describing it as “blisteringly funny, bruisingly sad and altogether wonderful.” The review was one of several rave notices for the play.
Joe Mantello directed the production, which features an ensemble of top-tier New York stage actors, including Cassie Back, Reed Birney, Jayne Houdyshell, Lauren Klein, Arian Moayed and Sarah Steele. The off-Broadway run is scheduled to close on Dec. 27.
Karam has been a rising star on the theater scene since 2007, when his play Speech & Debate inaugurated Roundabout’s Underground strand for emerging artists. It went on to become one of the most widely produced new American plays of subsequent seasons.
He followed in 2011 with Sons of the Prophet, which also played the Laura Pels and drew stellar reviews, sparking talk of a possible Broadway transfer. However, that move failed to materialize, partly due to lack of available theaters at the time.
Karam also penned the screenplay for a film adaptation of Speech & Debate, directed by Dan Harris, which will premiere next year, as will his new screen adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, directed by Michael Mayer and starring Annette Bening, Saoirse Ronan and Elisabeth Moss.
While theater pundits are widely predicting a sweep for Hamilton in the musical categories of next year’s Tony Awards, the race for best play is wide open. That lands The Humans in a highly competitive field.
Other new plays in the running include another current off-Broadway production making the jump early next year, Eclipsed, written by The Walking Dead star Danai Gurira and featuring Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o.
Contenders also include London import King Charles III, by Mike Bartlett; David Mamet’s new Al Pacino vehicle, China Doll; William Goldman’s adaptation of Stephen King’s Misery; Helen Edmundson’s adaptation of Therese Raquin; Our Mother’s Brief Affair, by Richard Greenberg; and Florian Zeller’s The Father, in a translation by Christopher Hampton.
It remains to be seen whether the Tony nominating committee will consider David Harrower’s Blackbird a new play or a revival. That drama is also being produced on Broadway by Rudin in the spring, with Mantello directing Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams in the two-hander. It was previously staged off-Broadway in 2007.
Exact dates and a theater have not yet been confirmed for the transfer of The Humans. However, given the desirability of an intimate house for the play, insiders are predicting that it will land at the 597-seat Helen Hayes Theatre. The musical pastiche Dames at Sea opened there last week to mostly tepid reviews and poor business, making it unlikely to last out the season.