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The most bellicose couple in American drama, George and Martha, are returning to Broadway next spring to continue the fight.
Producer Scott Rudin on Saturday announced that Edward Albee’s ageless 1962 masterwork Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, an unflinching portrait of marital allegiance and warfare set over the course of a boozy night on a New England college campus, will be revived in a production to star Laurie Metcalf as Martha, Eddie Izzard as George, Russell Tovey as Nick and Patsy Ferran as Honey.
The project marks the fourth consecutive Broadway role in as many theater seasons for Metcalf in a Rudin production. She starred in Lucas Hnath’s A Doll’s House, Part 2 in 2017, winning a lead actress Tony, then followed last year with Albee’s Three Tall Women, which bagged her a second Tony for featured actress. That play also was directed by Mantello, as is Hnath’s take on a modern political marriage, Hillary and Clinton, in which Metcalf stars opposite John Lithgow. The production currently is in previews and is set to officially open Thursday.
“I would do anything with Laurie and Joe, always,” Rudin tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Whatever it is that they want to make, we’re going to do. The fact that it’s this play — this extraordinary play that reads like it was written an hour ago — that is the next work we’re going to do together is both exciting and deeply intimidating.”
“It was something we began to talk about a lot during Three Tall Women,” continues Rudin. “It simply felt like the inevitable next one. And we’ve had a completely fantastic time on Hillary and Clinton, so the prospect of the mother lode that is Virginia Woolf coming up right behind Lucas’ play is something I’m hugely looking forward to, especially with this sensational acting company. It’s the greatest play with the greatest cast and the greatest director.”
Izzard will be making his first Broadway appearance in 10 years. He landed a Tony nomination for best actor in a play for his 2003 debut in Peter Nichols’ A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, and returned in 2010 in the David Mamet play Race.
Tovey appeared opposite Mark Strong on Broadway in the Tony-winning 2015 revival of Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge, also produced by Rudin. The actor made his Broadway debut in 2006 in Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, which won that year’s Tony for best play, among others, and helped propel the careers of a raft of young British theater, television and film actors, including James Corden, Dominic Cooper, Samuel Barnett and Jamie Parker.
Spanish-British stage actress Ferran will be making her Broadway debut in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, fresh from winning this year’s Olivier Award as best actress for the Almeida Theatre production of Tennessee Williams’ Summer and Smoke.
Albee’s towering drama has an illustrious history on Broadway. The 1962 premiere won multiple Tonys including best play, lead actor Arthur Hill and lead actress Uta Hagen. Albee himself directed a 1976 revival that earned Tony nominations for leads Colleen Dewhurst and Ben Gazzara.
More recently, the entire cast — Kathleen Turner, Bill Irwin, David Harbour and Mireille Enos — scored Tony noms for a 2005 revival, with Irwin taking home best actor honors. And a 2012 revival that transferred from Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre earned Tonys for best revival, lead actor Tracy Letts and director Pam MacKinnon, with fellow cast Amy Morton and Carrie Coon also nominated.
The 1966 Warner Bros. screen adaptation, directed by Mike Nichols in his first feature and written by Ernest Lehman, remains one of the best films of a stage play ever made. Starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal and Sandy Dennis, it was nominated for 13 Oscars and won five, including best actress for Taylor and supporting actress for Dennis, as well as best cinematography for Haskell Wexler’s richly textured black-and-white visuals.
The 2020 Broadway revival will feature set design by Miriam Buether, lighting by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer and costumes by Ann Roth.
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