Heartbreak House

A Fantasia in the Russian Manner on English Themes

American Airlines Theatre, (10/11/2006 - 12/17/2006)

First Preview: Sep 15, 2006
Opening Date: Oct 11, 2006
Closing Date: Dec 17, 2006
Total Previews: 30
Total Performances: 79

Category: Play, Comedy, Revival, Broadway
Description: A play in three acts
Setting: Sussex. A fine evening at the end of September.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by Roundabout Theatre Company (Todd Haimes: Artistic Director; Harold Wolpert: Managing Director; Julia C. Levy: Executive Director; Gene Feist: Founding Director)

Produced by Roundabout Theatre Company (Todd Haimes: Artistic Director; Harold Wolpert: Managing Director; Julia C. Levy: Executive Director; Gene Feist: Founding Director)

Written by George Bernard Shaw

Directed by Robin Lefèvre; Associate Director: Todd Lundquist

Scenic Design by John Lee Beatty; Costume Design by Jane Greenwood; Lighting Design by Peter Kaczorowski; Original Music and Sound Design by John Gromada; Hair and Wig Design by Tom Watson; Assistant Scenic Design: Timothy R. Mackabee; Assistant Costume Design: Jennifer Moeller; Assistant Lighting Design: Scott Davis; Assistant Sound Design: Ryan Rumery

Roundabout General Manager: Sydney Beers; Company Manager: Nichole Larson

Production Stage Manager: Leslie C. Lyter; Roundabout Technical Supervisor: Steve Beers; Stage Manager: Jonathan Donahue

General Press Representative: Boneau / Bryan-Brown; Dialect Coach: Stephen Gabis; Roundabout Director of Artistic Development/Casting: Jim Carnahan; Casting: Mele Nagler; Roundabout Director of Marketing: David B. Steffen; Roundabout Associate Artistic Director: Scott Ellis; Advertising: The Eliran Murphy Group, Ltd.; Photographer: Joan Marcus

Opening Night Cast

Philip BoscoCaptain Shotover
Byron JenningsHector Hushabye
Swoosie KurtzHesione Hushabye
Lily RabeEllie Dunn
Laila RobinsAriadne Utterword
Bill CampBoss Mangan
John Christopher JonesMazzini Dunn
Gareth SaxeRandall Utterword
Jenny SterlinNurse Guinness

Understudies: Tony Carlin (Boss Mangan, Hector Hushabye, Randall Utterword), Robin Mosely (Hesione Hushabye, Nurse Guinness), Angela Pierce (Ariadne Utterword, Ellie Dunn) and Doug Stender (Captain Shotover, Mazzini Dunn)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

 2007 Best Actress in a Play [nominee] 

Swoosie Kurtz

 2007 Best Costume Design of a Play [nominee] 

Jane Greenwood


AP: "A wise, witty 'Heartbreak House'"

"This house is full of surprises for them that don't know our ways,” says an elderly servant to a young woman making her first visit to the country home of the eccentric, seafaring Captain Shotover and his bohemian brood.

Not only surprises but delights, judging from the Roundabout Theatre Company's effervescent revival of George Bernard Shaw's meaty masterpiece, a play he grandly called "a fantasia in the Russian manner on English themes."

Chekhovian? Well, yes. Rueful, witty and chock full of the wordy banter that makes Shaw so difficult to pull off. But not to worry. Director Robin Lefevre has assembled a top-notch cast, including Philip Bosco and Swoosie Kurtz, for the production that opened Wednesday at the American Airlines Theatre.

We are in the twilight of Edwardian England on the eve of World War I when life was to irrevocably change. The batty Shotover, truly an ancient mariner, is a stand-in for Shaw, tossing off canny observations on life, love and politics.

As played by Bosco, perhaps this country's most expert interpreter of Shaw, Shotover detonates the play with delicious common sense. The actor, whose full white beard makes him look like a slightly off-kilter Santa Claus, is a skilled comedian and his expert comic timing make the most of Shaw's humor.

And that humor delights in poking fun at various types of Englishmen - and women. There's Shotover's flirtatious daughter, Hesione Hushabye, played by a divine Kurtz, her hair done up in a mass of red ringlets. Hesione takes her sauciness seriously and so does Kurtz. As Hesione's equally extravagant husband, Byron Jennings blithely suggests a matinee idol gone to seed.

Together, they represent a foolishness that will soon be swept away in a conflagration that will decimate a generation.

Equally outrageous in her own way is Hesione's long-absent sister, Ariadne, who has returned home from a long sojourn overseas as a diplomat's wife. Laila Robins hilariously luxuriates in the snobbery of this woman's Englishness. And then there's Randall, Ariadne's nebbishy, flute-playing brother-in-law (Gareth Sax) thrown in for good measure.

Into this bizarre environment comes young Ellie Dunn, who is smitten with Heslone's flamboyant husband. It's the girl's worldly education that preoccupies much of the play. And with an enchanting Lily Rabe as Ellie, her transformation into one of those shrewd, practical women Shaw so admired becomes a delight to watch. Rabe, who made her Broadway debut last season in "Steel Magnolias," is a major find.

The playwright doesn't neglect monetary and political concerns either. They are represented by Ellie's benign, idealistic father, (a gently dithering John Christopher Jones), who, of course, has absolutely no business sense.

The expertise in capitalism belongs to Boss Mangan, portrayed by a robust Bill Camp. The man is unscrupulous but successful so why shouldn't Ellie consider his offer of marriage.

Nautical allusions abound in "Heartbreak House," and it's not just Shotover’s frequent references to the sea. Designer John Lee Beatty's lavish country home suggests the wide expanse of an ocean worthy galleon.

Despite all the wit, an undercurrent of sadness snakes through "Heartbreak House," particularly in the play's elegiac third act. The old order in England is slipping away, a ship of state getting ready to sink. Yet Shaw and an excellent Roundabout production makes this last voyage theatrically buoyant.


View full site