Belasco Theatre, (2/22/2007 - 6/10/2007)

First Preview: Feb 08, 2007
Opening Date: Feb 22, 2007
Closing Date: Jun 10, 2007
Total Previews: 15
Total Performances: 125

Category: Play, Drama, Revival, Broadway
Description: A play in three acts
Setting: A dugout in the British trench near St. Quentin, France; March 1918.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by The Shubert Organization (Gerald Schoenfeld: Chairman; Philip J. Smith: President; Robert E. Wankel: Executive Vice President)

Produced by Boyett Ostar Productions, Stephanie McClelland, Bill Rollnick, James D'Orta and Philip Geier

Originally produced in London by Background Productions

Written by R. C. Sherriff

Directed by David Grindley

Scenic Design by Jonathan Fensom; Costume Design by Jonathan Fensom; Lighting Design by Jason Taylor; Sound Design by Gregory Clarke

General Manager: Alan Wasser and Allan Williams; Company Manager: Penelope Daulton

Technical Supervisor: Larry Morley; UK Technical Supervisor The Production Desk, Ltd.; Production Stage Manager: Arthur Gaffin; Stage Manager: David Sugarman

Casting: Jay Binder and Jack Bowdan; Press Representative: The Pete Sanders Group; Marketing: HHC Marketing; Advertising: The Eliran Murphy Group, Ltd.; Dialect Coach: Majella Hurley; Fight direction by Thomas Schall; Fight Captain: John Behlmann; Logo and Artwork Design: Frank 'Fraver' Verlizzo; Photographer: Paul Kolnik

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Opening Night Cast

Hugh Dancy
Broadway debut
Captain Stanhope
Boyd GainesLieut. Osborne
Jefferson MaysPrivate Mason
Stark Sands
Broadway debut
2nd Lieut. Raleigh
John Ahlin2nd Lieut. Trotter
Nick Berg Barnes
Broadway debut
Lance Corporal Broughton
John Behlmann
Broadway debut
Private Albert Brown
Justin Blanchard
Broadway debut
2nd Lieut. Hibbert
Kieran CampionGerman Soldier
John CurlessCaptain Hardy
Sergeant Major
Richard PoeColonel

Understudies: Nick Berg Barnes (2nd Lieut. Trotter, Captain Hardy, Sergeant Major), John Behlmann (Captain Stanhope, German Soldier, Lance Corporal Broughton), Kieran Campion (2nd Lieut. Hibbert, 2nd Lieut. Raleigh, Private Albert Brown, Private Broughton), John Curless (Colonel, Private Mason) and Richard Poe (Lieut. Osborne)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

winner 2007 Best Revival of a Play [winner] 

Produced by Boyett Ostar Productions, Stephanie McClelland, Bill Rollnick, James D'Orta and Philip Geier

 2007 Best Actor in a Play [nominee] 

Boyd Gaines

 2007 Best Featured Actor in a Play [nominee] 

Stark Sands

 2007 Best Direction of a Play [nominee] 

David Grindley

 2007 Best Scenic Design of a Play [nominee] 

Jonathan Fensom

 2007 Best Lighting Design of a Play [nominee] 

Jason Taylor

Drama Desk Award

winner 2007 Outstanding Revival of a Play [winner] 

Produced by Boyett Ostar Productions, Stephanie McClelland, Bill Rollnick, James D'Orta and Philip Geier

winner 2007 Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play [winner] 

Boyd Gaines

winner 2007 Outstanding Sound Design [winner] 

Sound Design by Gregory Clarke

Theatre World

winner 2007 Award [recipient] 

Stark Sands


AP: "'Journey's End' examines honor and duty"

Duty. Honor. Responsibility. Words that get bandied about a lot these days, particularly regarding the war in Iraq.

They were a pretty big deal, too, nearly 80 years ago when "Journey's End," R.C. Sherriff's drama of life in the trenches of World War I, first opened in London. So it's not surprising that the play remains an affecting evening of theater for today's audiences, a potent reminder of the human cost of conflict.

Director David Grindley's exceptional production, which opened Thursday at Broadway's Belasco Theatre, is as straightforward as the play. No gimmicks, unless you count the stereophonic rumblings of the guns and the bursts of mortar fire that seem to rattle the ancient Belasco to its venerable foundation.

In designer Jonathan Fensom's dimly lighted dugout setting, a world has been created in which hierarchy, tempered by a bit of hardy camaraderie, is all. Sherriff's play is carefully crafted, as he painstakingly sets up his plot and characters.

Nowhere is that precision more pronounced than in the creation of his central figure, Stanhope, the upper-crust commander of an infantry company in the British trenches in France. Even before Stanhope appears, we learn from the others on stage that he is a troubled soul. The man drinks, among other things.

In Hugh Dancy's jangly, nerves-exposed performance, Stanhope is a soldier trying to wrap his head around the horrors of the front lines — and survive. "Do you think this life sharpens the imagination?" he asks at one point. For him, that imagination leads to nightmares.

Those fears are heightened by the arrival of Raleigh, an idealistic, younger man who idealized the older Stanhope when they were together in school.

Stanhope's turbulence is steadied by another officer in the company, Osborne, an innately decent man portrayed with calm, understated common sense by a solid Boyd Gaines.

"There's something very deep, and rather fine, about hero-worship," says Osborne as Stanhope frets that Raleigh will become disillusioned or even disgusted at the man Stanhope has become.

The play's most moving moment occurs late in the evening when Osborne and Raleigh (a touchingly earnest Stark Sands) are about to be sent out on a dangerous mission, a job with minimal chance of success.

The two men talk of ordinary things — hot cocoa, forest hiking, "Alice in Wonderland" — before going off to face the Germans. "Stiff upper lip" may be the quintessential stereotype about an Englishman doing his duty, but their brave, seemingly inconsequential conversation is profoundly moving.

Sherriff also expertly captures existence in the confined quarters of the dugout, a gloomy, claustrophobic environment pierced by candlelight. 

Touches of humor are allowed to creep in — most of it supplied by Jefferson Mays as an efficient, inventive cook, making do with what supplies he has, and John Ahlin as a boisterous fellow soldier.

There's even a scene or two with a quivering shirker (Justin Blanchard) who is told by Stanhope to pull it together and fight.

"Journey's End" has always had a special resonance for British audiences, and Grindley recently directed a London revival that had a lengthy run. Yet the play has universal appeal. 

The staggering sense of loss depicted by "Journey's End" in this sterling revival will continue to haunt theatergoers for a long, long time.


New York Daily News: "Searing tale of life in the trenches a worthy 'Journey'"

War is hell, but the new production of R.C. Sherriff's World War I drama "Journey's End" is as heavenly as it is haunting.

Sherriff's 1928 drama, which opened last night at the Belasco, spans four days and depicts a group of British officers in France steeling for a major 1918 German attack. The men know it's coming and that survival odds are slim.

Sherriff based his play on his own tour of duty. His affection for the characters rings throughout this unsentimental revival, expertly directed by David Grindley, who helmed the play in London in 2004.

The action is talky and sometimes slow-going, especially during Act I, but anticipation is part of the fabric of the story. It's during these lulls, laced with small talk - about family, gardening, cricket, even "Alice in Wonderland" - that the men emerge as individuals, not mere types in countless war films.

The 12-actor cast rates praise from top to bottom. Hugh Dancy's charismatic and convincing portrait of 21-yearold Capt. Stanhope, who drinks to drown his battle fatigue and fears, anchors the production. Boyd Gaines has finally shed his boyishness and nails the avuncular 40-year-old Lt. Osborne, Stanhope's second in command, whose courage is matched by his compassion.

Jefferson Mays plays Pvt. Mason, the officers' cook, who lends humor by dishing out mystery meats and nasty tea but shows his mettle when the time comes. Newcomer Stark Sands makes a vivid impression as 18-year-old new recruit Raleigh, who hero-worshiped Stanhope at school and who learns too soon about the savagery of war.

The production's design matches the outstanding acting. Jonathan Fensom's uniforms look like the real deal, as does his authentically grim and cramped dugout. Jason Taylor's lighting - sometimes just a couple of flickering candles - adds immeasurably to the tension.

Sound designers don't often get shout-outs, but Gregory Clarke deserves one. The deafening and devastating cacophony he has created assaults your ears - and then your gut. You feel queasy, like you've been punched. A silent tableau follows (I won't spoil it with a description) that remind us of the terrible toll of war, and of its timelessness.

New York Daily News

New York Post: "Journey's Rewarding From Beginning to End"

War is hell - and it's a different hell for different times and even different generations. The Flanders trenches in World War I – that first war to end wars - must have been muddy, bloody and infested with horrors.

R.C. Sherriff’s 1928 play "Journey's End," returning to Broadway Wednesday night at the Belasco Theatre, is a well-bred hymn to that sacrifice, and a beautifully crafted vehicle for over-the-top and through-the-barbed-wire acting that is genuinely moving because of its simple, slightly rose-colored sincerity.

Sherriff based this, his first produced play and by far his best, on his own experiences as a subaltern in France, a species of young British officer whose life expectancy was estimated at about two weeks.

Director David Grindly, a rising star of the British theater responsible for the play's acclaimed West End staging three years ago, has done a spectacular job.

The play's hero, Capt. Stanhope (Hugh Dancy), after three years of almost constant battle an alcoholic veteran at 21, is in charge of a British frontline battalion facing the opening of what proved the final, massive German offensive of the war.

Alongside him in his rat-trap of a trench are his second-in-command, the avuncular Lt. Osborne (Boyd Gaines), and an 18-year-old 2nd Lt. Raleigh (Stark Sands), on his first posting, who idolized Stanhope when they were at the same school.

The team of officers is completed by two 2nd lieutenants: fat, competent Trotter (John Ahlen), and Hibbert (Justin Blanchard), a putative coward possibly suffering from shell shock.

They are tended by a working-class enlisted man Pvt. Mason (Jefferson Mays), who is cook, waiter, general dogs body, and, when push comes to shove, rifleman. He is dryly humorous, and the Hollywood-style salt of the English earth.

The acting is truly remarkable - a terrific ensemble as fine as Broadway has seen in many a year. Dancy's whiskey-doused Stanhope, as nervy as a volcano, as taut as bowstring ready to twang, is a layered and complex picture of a war-drained leader, but all in the company go beyond the playwright's simplistics.

And the production is enormously helped by the splendidly atmospheric, all-but-tangible scenic design of Jonathan Fensom, the lighting of Jason Taylor and the sound design of Gregory Clarke.

New York Post

Newsday: "The Great War hits great heights"

It is possible not to relish the prospect of spending three dark days - that's 2 1/2 theater hours - in the officer dugout of a British trench in 1918. Even if Tony Blair had not announced plans to reduce the British presence in Iraq this week, however, it would be hard to remember a Broadway drama with more persuasive war-is-hell immediacy than "Journey's End."

R.C. Sherriff wrote this humane close-up of World War I in 1928, just a year after Erich Maria Remarque wrote "All Quiet on the Western Front" from his harrowing memories of the German trenches. Seventy-eight years after the Broadway premiere, Sherriff's own lesser-known slice of aching battlefield life turns out to be no less exquisitely humane.

David Grindley's celebrated revival, which ran almost two years in London, has been recast for Broadway with a virtuosic all-male company that, for all its credentials, understands the power of a real ensemble. Imagine, please, that Jefferson Mays - the solo star of "I Am My Own Wife" - takes the relatively small role of a cook, infusing his every action with an attitude of sublime efficiency.

The setup is as familiar as a standard-issue war movie. A battle-scarred captain (Hugh Dancy) is drinking too much. An old-timer (Boyd Gaines), nicknamed Uncle, is brave and loyal. The newbie (Stark Sands) turns out to be a wide-eyed friend of the captain's privileged family. The Germans are just 100 yards away. Though everyone knows that a big assault is coming, things are way too quiet outside. (The excellent sound designer is Gregory Clarke.)

But Sherriff, an insurance claims adjuster who later went to Hollywood and wrote 1939's "Goodbye, Mr. Chips," sculpts each character from meticulous observation and a droll, moody sense of humor.

Dancy, the dashing young British film actor in his Broadway debut, makes us understand the captain's need to disappear into whiskey. If we can't quite imagine that soldiers could ever dare enjoy watching him drink as a "freak," we do believe both his breeding and the hyperactive drive of his depression.

Gaines wraps a gentle, rigorous intelligence around Uncle, who was a schoolteacher in the faraway real world. John Ahlin has a boisterous sweetness as the lower-class Second Lieutenant who escapes into food. Justin Blanchard switches cannily from terrified to manipulative as an officer with psychogenic headaches. Sands makes the new guy more colors than merely green.

Revolvers are kept ready, more for the rats than for the Germans - who are deadly enemies, but as helpless as the cannon fodder on "our side." The rough wooden sets, designed by Jonathan Fensom, create an almost cozy hideaway where officers can attempt to maintain mealtime rituals. Despite an occasional shaft of sunlight from the doorway, we are forced to concentrate in candlelit darkness (lighting design by Jason Taylor). Even the old-fashioned curtain crackles with drama.


Variety: "Journey's End"

The London success of David Grindley's 2004 revival of "Journey's End," R.C. Sherriff's 1929 play set in the British trenches during WWI, illustrated the slow-burning drama's capacity to resonate with audiences 75 years on. The politics, technology, media management and basic tools of war may have changed, but the drama's insights into the psychological toll of battle and the courage and endurance of its soldiers seem more trenchant than ever in the emotionally wrenching production's recast Broadway transfer.

The play should be a dusty relic given its single setting and archetypal characters; its focus not on ordinary soldiers but on privileged, mainly middle-class officers; and its unhurried setup and almost plotless action. And given the extent to which Sherriff allows the numbing monotony of trench life to permeate the dramatic fabric, it should -- and at times does -- drift toward tedium.

But Grindley's exacting staging never shrinks from these potential stumbling blocks. He methodically follows the playwright's careful blueprint, secure in the knowledge that when the drama's inactivity detonates into emotional rawness, the effect will be devastating.

The production demands patience and alertness from its audience. Given the shadowy beauty of Jason Taylor's dim lighting and the claustrophobic confines of Jonathan Fensom's meticulously realistic, low-ceilinged dugout set, it may also require a certain amount of squinting from the mezzanine. But rarely does a play that initially seems so phlegmatic acquire such visceral power as it progresses –crescendoing in a stunning final tableau.

Which is not to say there isn't room for growth in a cast that's sturdy if not exemplary. Sherriff's drama and Grindley's approach both call for the utmost naturalism. While the performances are focused and effective, there's still too much evidence of acting -- too many signs of mastering accents, defining characters, nailing speeches.

As last season's revival of Clifford Odets' "Awake and Sing!" in this same theater showed, writing from this period requires fluency in a language full of stilted rhythms and antiquated idioms. Both plays also require well-oiled ensemble synchronicity. The cast of "Journey's End" hasn't quite captured yet the awkward oneness of men living shoulder-to-shoulder with each other and their fear in cramped quarters.

But they're not far off.

In the central role of Capt. Stanhope, Brit actor Hugh Dancy, with his matinee-idol good looks, credibly embodies the idea of the most handsome, popular lad at school, a star of the rugby and cricket fields who inspires hero worship in his younger fiiend, 2nd Lt. Raleigh (Stark Sands).

Much of the drama's conflict early on is fueled by Stanhope's angel' when Raleigh is assigned to his company near St. Quentin, France. Stanhope is unofficially engaged to Raleigh's sister back home, and, painfully aware of the changes wrought in him by nearly three years of commanding a unit at the front, he fears Raleigh will write to her about his copious intake of whiskey and growing irascibility.

This sense of war as a mutating force that can alter good men into demon-plagued wrecks is strongly conveyed in the writing and in Dancy's febrile performance. He cranks up into states of extreme agitation and intensity, spewing bitter poison yet never losing sight of the compassionate man beneath the tightly wound surface.

Sands, too, is ideally cast. While the actor's name sounds like it belongs on a porn star or a Bond girl, his face is pure boyish innocence. Fresh out of school and green to the horrors of war, Raleigh is ill-equipped to comprehend his friend's hardened behavior, and Sands makes the doomed soldier's bewilderment heart-breaking.

There's also nuanced work from Boyd Gaines as former schoolmaster Lt. Osborne, whose reading material of choice, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," echoes the surreal nature of going underground to a nightmare world. Gaines expands his range as this profoundly decent man, struggling to maintain the appearance of calm that helps to stabilize the younger officers. He's central to some of the play's most penetrating scenes.

Jefferson Mays brings understated humor as the ingratiating cook, and John Ahlin contributes another droll characterization as amiable Trotter, a rotund second lieutenant who disguises thoughts of mortality with appreciation of simple pleasures like food, drink and gardening.

While Trotter's accent identifies him as the only officer from the working class, that stiff-upper-lip proclivity to make polite small talk rather than confront terrifying reality is a common trait in Sherriff’s portrait of tested resilience. "There's nothing worse than dirt in your tea," observes Osborne stoically in the opening scene. The soldiers' almost laughably chipper language -- sprinkled with terms like "Righto," "Old boy," "I say" and "Simply topping" -- makes the awareness of the fear churning underneath more distressing.

Aided immeasurably by Fensom and Taylor in evoking the inescapable tension of trench warfare, Grindley's direction is measured and purposeful, never pushing too hard. By the time, during the climactic Gelman offensive, when the grenade blasts and gunfire are amplified to such deafening levels that the theater seems to shake and the empty dugout set becomes choked with smoke and dust, it's impossible to remain unmoved.

While it was intended not as a condemnation of war but as a salute to the men Shemff fought beside during WWI, "Journey's End" inevitably bristles with a sense of the human cost and futility of violent conflict. With no sign of the war in Iraq abating, and a government seemingly anxious to fire up another one in Iran, it encourages audiences to reflect deeply on their personal response to war, underscoring how far removed any reaction is from the direct experience.


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