Circle in the Square Theatre, (9/25/1977 - 11/20/1977)

First Preview: Sep 02, 1977
Opening Date: Sep 25, 1977
Closing Date: Nov 20, 1977
Total Previews: 26
Total Performances: 65

Category: Play, Comedy, Farce, Revival, Broadway
Setting: Orgon's home in 17th century Paris.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by Circle in the Square (under the direction of Theodore Mann and Paul Libin)

Produced by Circle in the Square (Theodore Mann: Artistic Director; Paul Libin: Managing Director)

Written by Molière; English verse translation by Richard Wilbur

Directed by Stephen Porter

Scenic Design by Zack Brown; Costume Design by Zack Brown; Lighting Design by John McLain; Hair and Wig Design by Paul Huntley; Assistant to Scenic Designer: Maura Smollover and Greg Bolton; Assistant to Costume Designer: Kristina Watson

Company Manager: William Conn; Associate Co. Mgr: Alan Wasser

Production Stage Manager: Randall Brooks; Stage Manager: James Bernardi

Musical Supervisor: Earl Shendell

Public Relations Director: Merle Debuskey; Press Representative: David Roggensack; Advertising: Don Josephson, Cathy Perry and Blaine-Thompson; Casting: Lynn Kressel; Photographer: Martha Swope

Opening Night Cast

Mildred DunnockMme. Pernelle
Orgon's mother
Patricia ElliottDorine
Mariane's lady's-maid
Tammy GrimesElmire
Orgon's wife
John WoodTartuffe
a hyprocrite
Peter CoffieldCléante
Orgon's brother-in-law
Victor GarberValère
in love with Mariane
Stefan GieraschOrgon
Elmire's husband
Swoosie KurtzMariane
Orgon's daughter, Elmire's stepdaughter
Jim BroaddusPolice Officer
Roy BrocksmithM. Loyal
a bailiff
Steven GilbornDeputy
Timothy LandfieldDeputy
Ruth LivingstonFlipote
Mme. Pernelle's maid
Ray WiseDamis
Orgon's son, Elmire's stepson

Understudies: Jim Broaddus (Cléante), Roy Brocksmith (Tartuffe), Steven Gilborn (M. Loyal, Orgon, Police Officer), Timothy Landfield (Damis, Valère), Johanna Leister (Elmire, Flipote, Mariane) and Ruth Livingston (Dorine, Mme. Pernelle)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

 1978 Best Featured Actress in a Play [nominee] 

Swoosie Kurtz

 1978 Most Innovative Production of a Revival [nominee] 

Produced by Circle in the Square (Theodore Mann: Artistic Director; Paul Libin: Managing Director)

Drama Desk Award

 1978 Outstanding Actress in a Play [nominee] 

Patricia Elliott

 1978 Outstanding Actress in a Play [nominee] 

Tammy Grimes

 1978 Outstanding Costume Design [nominee] 

Zack Brown


New York Daily News: "Majestically undone by John Wood"

Who could have doubted that John Wood, the protean British actor, would make an immensely funny Tartuffe? The other night, at the uptown Circle in the Square, where a new production of Moliere's comedy opened officially last evening, he devoured part, play, most of his supporting cast and even Zack Brown's first-rate setting without even bothering to chew it. Yet he brilliantly expressed Richard Wilbur's acute, often inspired, 1963 rhymed-couplet translation.

In "Tartuffe," you'll recall, the title character doesn't actually appear until almost an hour has gone by, though during that time he is almost the sole topic of conversation as he is ridiculed for being the pious fraud he is, and all to no avail. For Orgon, head of this well-to-do 17th century Parisian household, will have none of it. Having encountered the meek-mannered, indigent and obviously devout Tartuffe at church, the gullible Orgon has not only provided the scoundrel with shelter in his own home, but is arranging to marry him off to his (Orgon's) daughter Mariane, the beloved of young Valere, and has furthermore signed over house and belongings to the intruder.

Up to this point, the production, though cleverly staged by Stephen Porter, attractively costumed by Brown and becomingly lighted by John McLain, has its ups and downs. The ups are most handsomely provided by the vibrant Patricia Elliott as Dorine, Mariane's outspoken maid, though both Swoosie Kurtz as a dopey Mariane and Mildred Dunnock as Orgon's near-senile mother score points, too.

But as Orgon, the blind defender of the faithless (the sainted Tartuffe), Stefan Gierasch is merely stubborn rather than heroically - and comically - intransigent in an admittedly difficult role, while Peter Coffield is genuinely boring as Orgon's loquacious brother-in-law, Cleant. And up to now, Tammy Grimes, as Orgon's wise wife, Elmire, still has her place in the sun lying before her.

Enter Tartuffe. From the moment Wood - barefoot and wearing a shapeless, loose-belted black cossock and a hangdog look on his long, angular features framed by long, straggly hair - appears, we are majestically undone. Looking something like the lead singer of some new and satanic punk-rock band, Wood takes us in his manic grip and never lets go. When, his lust at fever pitch, he woos the first unsettled then shrewdly aware Elmire, his fiercely-demanding and rapid-fire delivery in that rich, encompassing voice of his is enough to make the walls of the theater tumble down with laughter. He is, curiously, though not at all imitatively, the only other actor I have ever seen with the demonic, ferociously-controlled humor that was John Barrymore's.

Miss Grimes, starchily and voluminously gowned and the sides of her elaborate hairdo in silly ringlets like clusters of grapes, comes into her own in the hilarious seduction scene. Her matter-of-factness, yet at the same time wide-eyed wonderment at Tartuffe's assault, is beautifully balanced. The others are at best passable, though Roy Brocksmith makes something of his late appearance as the unctuous bailiff.

Moliere, who had more trouble getting "Tartuffe" on, in the face of powerful opposition from well-placed pious hypocrites and even from the young Sun King himself than any of his other works, did cop out in the end with the arresting officer's lengthy paean about Louis XIV's all-encompassing wisdom, insight and generosity. But that's almost as funny as everything else about the play.

New York Daily News

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