In the Next Room

or The Vibrator Play

Lyceum Theatre, (11/19/2009 - 1/10/2010)

First Preview: Oct 22, 2009
Opening Date: Nov 19, 2009
Closing Date: Jan 10, 2010
Total Previews: 31
Total Performances: 60

Category: Play, Comedy, Original, Broadway
Setting: A properous spa town outside of New York City. The dawn of the age of electricity, and after the Civil War.

Opening Night Production Staff

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

Produced by Lincoln Center Theater (André Bishop: Artistic Director; Bernard Gersten: Executive Producer)

Originally commissioned and produced by Berkeley Repertory Theatre

Written by Sarah Ruhl; Original Music by Jonathan Bell

Directed by Les Waters; Assistant Director: Sarah Rasmussen

Scenic Design by Annie Smart; Costume Design by David Zinn; Lighting Design by Russell H. Champa; Sound Design by Bray Poor; Hair and Wig Design by Paul Huntley; Assistant Scenic Design: Andrew Kaufman; Assistant Costume Design: Jacob A. Climer; Assistant Lighting Design: Justin Partier; Assistant Sound Design: Charles Coes

General Manager: Adam Siegel; Company Manager: Matthew Markoff; Associate Gen. Mgr: Jessica Niebanck; Assistant Co. Mgr: Daniel Hoyos

Technical Supervisor: William Nagle and Patrick Merryman; Production Stage Manager: Roy Harris; Production Manager: Jeff Hamlin; Assistant Stage Mgr: Denise Yaney

LCT Director of Casting: Daniel Swee; General Press Representative: Philip Rinaldi; LCT Director of Development: Hattie K. Jutagir; LCT Director of Marketing: Linda Mason Ross; Advertising: Serino Coyne, Inc.; Photographer: Joan Marcus; Video Services: Fresh Produce Productions; Videographer: Frank Basile

Opening Night Cast

Laura BenantiMrs. Givings
Quincy Tyler BernstineElizabeth
Michael CerverisDr. Givings
Maria DizziaMrs. Daldry
Thomas Jay RyanMr. Daldry
Wendy Rich StetsonAnnie
Chandler WilliamsLeo Irving

Understudies: Nathan Darrow (Dr. Givings, Leo Irving), Emily Dorsch (Annie, Mrs. Daldry), Donnetta Lavinia Grays (Elizabeth), Paul Niebanck (Dr. Givings, Mr. Daldry) and Erica Sullivan (Annie, Mrs. Givings)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

 2010 Best Play [nominee] 

Written by Sarah Ruhl; Produced by Lincoln Center Theater (André Bishop: Artistic Director; Bernard Gersten: Executive Producer)

 2010 Best Featured Actress in a Play [nominee] 

Maria Dizzia

 2010 Best Costume Design of a Play [nominee] 

David Zinn

Drama Desk Award

 2010 Outstanding Costume Design [nominee] 

David Zinn

Pulitzer Prize

 2010 for Drama [nominee] 

Written by Sarah Ruhl


AP: "Electricity adds spark 'In the Next Room'"

The dawn of electricity and the quest for sexual fulfillment. Who knew the two could be linked so satisfactorily on stage?

But then Thomas Edison gets profusely thanked in Sarah Ruhl's "In the Next Room or the vibrator play," a perceptive comedy about female liberation of a very specific kind.

This provocative, often quite funny play, which Lincoln Center Theater opened Thursday at Broadway's Lyceum Theatre, is Ruhl's most entertaining work to date. Not only because of its sexual subject matter but because she has created a parade of appealing, fully drawn characters, starting with the husband and wife at the center of her play. And Ruhl is dealing with some serious issues, too, most prominently the often difficult relationships between men and women and their misreadings of each other.

Dr. and Mrs. Givings are the epitome of proper, prosperous late 19th century American society.

Dr. Givings is a specialist in gynecological and hysterical disorders; Catherine, his wife, is a dutiful, devoted helpmate and a caring mother to their newborn daughter, even though she has trouble nursing the infant.

As the good doctor, the excellent Michael Cerveris personifies solicitousness, ever sympathetic to his patients' problems but unaware of his own wife's unhappiness. She's a woman who confesses at one point in the play, "I don't know what kind of person I am," and Laura Benanti perfectly captures her tremulous uncertainty.

Dr. Givings at least has a solution for his patients: "therapeutic electrical massage" to relieve a woman's nervous condition. It's accomplished with an electrically powered contraption located in his "operating theater," found in the room next to his home parlor.

"In the Next Room," which has been directed by Les Waters, also chronicles the change in Sabrina, one of Givings' patients. She's a frigid, fidgety woman who is transformed — the woman even begins playing the piano again — after sessions with the doctor's machine. Maria Dizzia accomplishes this blossoming with considerable emotion.

The doctor's wife is less successful at overcoming her own frustrations, especially after she starts listening through the parlor door to the sounds coming from her husband's operating theater.

In addition, the couple finds a wet nurse, who has recently lost her own child, to do duty for Catherine. She proves so successful that it sends Catherine further into a depression. The role is played by Quincy Tyler Bernstein, an actress of quiet power. She delivers an impassioned, heartbreaking speech about the woman's own dead child, and it's one of the play's highlights.

But matters get worse for Catherine with the arrival of a handsome, hedonistic English painter (Chandler Williams) who awakens even more ardor in the woman. He, too, is a patient of the doctor. But it is this artist who correctly identifies Catherine's problem, saying "Your soul is locked somewhere inside your body — so I cannot see it."

It's a longing her husband — so good at helping other woman — can't see in his own wife. She takes matters into her own hands, finally, in the play's last scene which features a passionate embrace in the falling snow.

The moment is a reminder that many of Ruhl's best known plays, such as "The Clean House," ''Eurydice" and "Dead Man's Cell Phone," have often been more fanciful. But none has been so sensual and dare we say it, surprisingly romantic, particularly in that wintery tableau.


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