Morosco Theatre, (3/31/1977 - 10/29/1977)
Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, (10/31/1977 - 12/31/1977)

First Preview: Mar 26, 1977
Opening Date: Mar 31, 1977
Closing Date: Dec 31, 1977
Total Previews: 5
Total Performances: 315

Category: Play, Drama, Original, Broadway
Setting: Three cottages on the grounds of a large hospital.

Opening Night Cast

Joyce EbertMaggie
Patricia ElliottBeverly
Geraldine FitzgeraldFelicity
Rose GregorioAgnes
Laurence LuckinbillBrian
Simon OaklandJoe
Mandy PatinkinMark
Josef SommerThe Interviewer
Vincent StewartSteve

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

winner 1977 Best Play [winner] 

Written by Michael Cristofer; Produced by Allan Francis, Ken Marsolais, Lester Osterman and Leonard Soloway

 1977 Best Featured Actor in a Play [nominee] 

Laurence Luckinbill

 1977 Best Featured Actress in a Play [nominee] 

Patricia Elliott

 1977 Best Featured Actress in a Play [nominee] 

Rose Gregorio

winner 1977 Best Direction of a Play [winner] 

Gordon Davidson

Drama Desk Award

 1977 Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play [nominee] 

Joyce Ebert

 1977 Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play [nominee] 

Rose Gregorio

 1977 Outstanding New Play (American) [nominee] 

Produced by Lester Osterman, Ken Marsolais, Allan Francis and Leonard Soloway; Written by Michael Cristofer

Pulitzer Prize

winner 1977 for Drama [winner] 

Written by Michael Cristofer


New York Daily News: "A vividly acted but artificial play"

Michael Cristofer's "The Shadow Box," a beautifully acted play about three terminally ill hospital patients and their loved ones that came to the Morosco last evening, is even more effectively staged, under Gordon Davidson's superb direction, in this proscenium house than on the low, open platform stage at New Haven's Long Wharf Theater, where I first saw it a couple of months back. Yet I still find myself unable to succumb to this obviously sincere but very contrived and unbelievable work.

The three patients, two of them ambulatory and in seeming good health (except for one's sudden seizure) and the third in a wheelchair but tended to by her daughter, have been permitted to leave the main hospital (someplace in the California mountains) and dwell in fully equipped cottages on the thickly wooded grounds. There, they are expected to lead practically normal lives, and in the company of their families, if possible.

They are, of course, living a lie and in a sort of dream factory it is practially impossible to accept, though I have to remind myself that this is California, the land of sunshine, cults, the San Andreas fault and sunburned brains. And every now and then the voice of God, in the form of a man called the Interviewer, who holds some ill-defined executive position in the main house, queries them soothingly, unseen by them even when he actually appears in the neatly suited person of Josef Sommer.

These scenes with God elicit some revealing information, especially in Rose Gregorio's halting and beautifully expressed account of the circumstances leading up to the fatal illness of her spunky, chair-ridden mother, played by Geraldine Fitzgerald, who has a pace-maker, a plastic bag for a stomach and other gadgets which, along with painkillers, are keeping her alive temporarily. But all this interviewing is really an easy way out for the author, who should be able to disclose the same things in more dramatic terms.

Another cottage is occupied by a learned, compulsive, and untalented writer named Brian who has, while here, turned out many novels, four autobiographies, volumes of poems and other scribblings. He has as his permanent guest a lover named Mark, a former male hustler who has become attached to the dying man, and, as a temporary and unexpected guest, his drunken ex-wife, Beverly, who has become an international tramp, acquiring jewelry of many sorts (all of which she sports on her person) from men of all nations.

This is, of course, the most lurid and explosive of the three situations, which sometimes intertwine and sometimes separate for sizable scenes in Ming Cho Lee's single cottage setting, which serves for all three. These roles are brilliantly set forth by Laurence Luckinbill as Brian, Mandy Patinkin as Mark, and especially by Patricia Elliott as the ex-wife, though the part is almost impossible to credit.

The third family (which really begins and ends the play, except for a coda in which all three groups, posed in various sections of the stage, one by one express the wonder of life's brief moment) consists of a robust father (the dying inmate) and his wife and teenage son, who have flown all the way from Newark, N.J.

The son is unknowing and the mother refuses to face the facts, even to entering the cottage. This is the first time she has seen him in six months and she wants him home again. And indeed, why not? There is the best of cancer care, and even of homes for terminal patients, right here in New York. So why should Joe, as this ex-laborer is called, prefer to moon about on a West Coast mountain instead of in the company of wife Maggie, whom he appears to adore, unless the playwright has left out something and Joe has been trying to get away from his old lady for years?

The funny thing is that Cristofer can definitely write, using good dialogue (even when some of the things declared are things that would be felt inwardly but never given voice to) and building scenes expertly.

And yet, though this is one of those plays engaging our immediate sympathy due to its subject matter, I couldn't believe in it all.

New York Daily News

Replacement/Transfer Info

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

Morosco Theatre

(3/31/1977 - 10/29/1977)

Stage Manager: Bethe Ward.


Mary Carver
Felicity (Apr 30, 1977 - ?)
Timothy Crowe
The Interviewer
Gwyda DonHowe
Beverly (Aug 1977 - ?)
Thomas Hill
Clifton James
Joe (May 23, 1977 - ?)
Stephen Keep
The Interviewer
Ted LePlat
David Rasche
Sloane Shelton
Josef Sommer
Brian (Aug 1977 - ?)
Georgia Southcotte
Dai Stockton

Standby: Timothy Crowe (Brian), Victor Garber (Mark), Stephen Keep (Brian), Richard Kuss (Joe, The Interviewer), Pamela Lincoln (Agnes, Beverly), Sloane Shelton (Maggie, Felicity), Georgia Southcotte (Maggie), Dai Stockton (Steve), Claudette Sutherland (Agnes, Beverly).

Lunt-Fontanne Theatre

(10/31/1977 - 12/31/1977)


Rob DeRosa
Marge Redmond
Robin Strasser

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