Biltmore Theatre, (11/06/2003 - 12/21/2003)

First Preview: Oct 16, 2003
Opening Date: Nov 06, 2003
Closing Date: Dec 21, 2003
Total Previews: 23
Total Performances: 54

Category: Play, Drama, Original, Broadway
Setting: The office of John Pace Seavering and its anteroom in a Manhattan tower. April 1, 1919.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by Manhattan Theatre Club (Lynne Meadow, Artistic Director; Barry Grove, Executive Producer)

Produced by Manhattan Theatre Club (Lynne Meadow, Artistic Director; Barry Grove, Executive Producer)

"The Violet Hour" was commissioned and first produced by South Coast Repertory (David Emmes, Producing Artistic Director, Martin Benson, Artistic Director)

Written by Richard Greenberg

Directed by Evan Yionoulis; Assistant Director: Pat Diamond

Scenic Design by Christopher H. Barreca; Costume Design by Jane Greenwood; Lighting Design by Donald Holder; Sound Design by Scott Myers; Assistant Scenic Design: Matt Downs McAdon and Justin Townsend; Assistant Costume Design: Junghyun Georgia Lee; Assistant Lighting Design: Elizabeth Gaines; Assistant Sound Design: Josh Bender; Wig Design by Tom Watson

MTC General Manager: Harold Wolpert; Company Manager: Denise Cooper

Production Stage Manager: Ed Fitzgerald; Stage Manager: James FitzSimmons; MTC Production Manager / Director of Capital Projects: Michael R. Moody

Special Effects by Gregory Meeh; Associate Special Effects: Patrick Boyd

Casting: Nancy Piccione and David Caparelliotis; Press Representative: Boneau / Bryan-Brown; MTC Director of Development: Andrew D. Hamingson; MTC Director of Marketing: Debra A. Waxman; MTC Director of Artistic Development: Paige Evans; Production Photographer: Joan Marcus; Playbill Cover Photography: Hugh Kretschmer; Vocal Coach: Walton Wilson

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Opening Night Cast

Mario CantoneGidger
Dagmara DominczykRosamund Plinth
Scott FoleyDenis McCleary
Robert Sean LeonardJohn Pace Seavering
Robin Miles
Replaced Jasmine Guy in previews
Jessie Brewster
(Oct 23, 2003 - Dec 21, 2003)

Understudies: Elsa Davis (Jessie Brewster), Robert L. Devaney (Denis McCleary, Gidger, John Pace Seavering) and Heather Mazur (Rosamund Plinth)

Awards and Nominations

Drama Desk Award

 2004 Outstanding Lighting Design [nominee] 

Donald Holder


AP: "Present, Future Collide in Violet Hour"

Time plays tricks on the characters in "The Violet Hour," Richard Greenberg's odd yet entertaining fantasy that has inaugurated Manhattan Theatre Club's new home on Broadway, the handsomely restored and renovated Biltmore Theatre.

Imagine a high-minded salon comedy by way of a "Twilight Zone" episode and you might get some idea of what Greenberg and director Evan Yionoulis are aiming for in this initially troubled production, which saw its two original actresses replaced before opening night.

The year is 1919, the place New York City and preppy young publisher John Pace Seavering is trying to decide what to publish first – a voluminous novel by his Princeton buddy, an F. Scott Fitzgerald prototype, or the memoirs of his mistress, a blues singer.

John, portrayed with appealing earnestness by Robert Sean Leonard, is being pressured by both writers. Denny, his college friend, needs to impress the wealthy family of his ethereal, childlike girlfriend, a meatpacking heiress who bears a strong resemblance to Fitzgerald's Zelda. Jessie, the imperious singer, is direct and no-nonsense, demanding John take their secretive affair seriously.

Yet Greenberg, author of the Tony-winning "Take Me Out" as well as "Eastern Standard" and "Three Days of Rain," has more on his mind than literary and personal wrangles. "In my work, the reader will never know where the story is headed," says Denny of his gigantic novel. The same could be said for theatergoers watching Greenberg's play.

A scent of mystery envelops "The Violet Hour," when John's prissy assistant, Gidger (portrayed with deliciously demented hysteria by Mario Cantone), announces the arrival of a large, forbidding machine. The contraption soon begins spewing out page after page of text.

By Act 2, John's office is filled with sheets of paper, pages that are from books published at the end of the 20th century, most of them dealing with what the neophyte publisher will become. John confronts his future as well as what will become of those around him. It exhilarates and terrifies him.

Greenberg cleverly tweaks the evolution - or should that be the dumbing down - of language over the next eight decades. Gidger hilariously ponders what he considers the desecration of the word "gay." "Gaiety gone," he wails. "How do they live without it?" And what's with all these new words such as "co-opt" and "existential"?

What is more important, the playwright seems to suggest that knowing the future doesn't necessarily make you any happier or wiser. John is faced with the dilemma of learning how his friends' lives will turn out, most of them disastrously.

Scott Foley skillfully projects the self-centered impetuosity and manipulation of the would-be novelist. Robin Miles, a late replacement for Jasmine Guy (who left the cast because of medical reasons), is commanding as the doomed singer. Dagmara Dominczyk, who took over for Laura Benanti (who left for artistic reasons) before preview performances started, doesn't quite capture the quirkiness of the novelist's rich fiancee.

Designer Christopher Barreca's surreal office setting fits the slightly off-kilter nature of the play. Jane Greenwood's period costumes are exactly right, particularly the sumptuous dresses for the women.

The play's haunting title, by the way, is the name of Denny's novel. As he explains it: "It's that time - that wonderful New York hour when the evening's about to reward you for the day."

The title fits perfectly. "The Violet Hour" is a well-crafted play filled with wonder, a celebration of possibility and anticipation of things to come.


Replacement/Transfer Info

The following people are credited as replacements or additions if they were not credited on opening night.

Biltmore Theatre

(11/6/2003 - 12/21/2003)


Jasmine Guy
Jessie Brewster Was replaced in previews
(Oct 16, 2003 - Oct 23, 2003)

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