Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, (11/08/2011 - 12/18/2011)
Lyceum Theatre, (2/07/2012 - 6/17/2012)

First Preview: Oct 13, 2011
Opening Date: Nov 08, 2011
Closing Date: Jun 17, 2012
Total Previews: 37
Total Performances: 191

Category: Play, Drama, Original, Broadway

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by Manhattan Theatre Club (Lynne Meadow, Artistic Director; Barry Grove, Executive Producer)

Produced by Manhattan Theatre Club (Lynne Meadow, Artistic Director; Barry Grove, Executive Producer); Produced by arrangement with Jon B. Platt, Scott Landis and Classic Stage Company

Originally produced by Classic Stage Company

Written by David Ives

Directed by Walter Bobbie

Scenic Design by John Lee Beatty; Costume Design by Anita Yavich; Lighting Design by Peter Kaczorowski; Sound Design by Acme Sound Partners and Nevin Steinberg; Associate Scenic Design: Kacie Hultgren; Assistant Costume Design: Nicole Jescinth Smith; Assistant Lighting Design: Gina Scherr; Associate Sound Design: Jason Crystal; Make-Up Design by Angelina Avallone

MTC General Manager: Florie Seery; Company Manager: Erin Moeller

Production Stage Manager: Winnie Y. Lok; Production Manager: Joshua Helman; Stage Manager: Carlos Maisonet; Associate Prod. Mgr: Bethany Weinstein; Assistant Prod. Mgr: Kevin Service

MTC Artistic Producer: Mandy Greenfield; MTC Director of Artistic Development: Jerry Patch; MTC Artistic Line Producer: Lisa McNulty; MTC Director of Marketing: Debra Waxman-Pilla; MTC Director of Casting: Nancy Piccione; MTC Director of Development: Lynne Randall; Fight direction by Thomas Schall; Web Design: SpotCo Interactive; Press Representative: Boneau / Bryan-Brown; Casting: James Calleri; Advertising: SPOTCo, Inc.; Photographer: Joan Marcus; Vocal Coach: Deborah Hecht; Press Associate: Christine Olver

Opening Night Cast

Nina AriandaVanda
Hugh DancyThomas

Understudies: Mark Alhadeff (Thomas) and Victoria Mack (Vanda)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

 2012 Best Play [nominee] 

Written by David Ives; Produced by Manhattan Theatre Club (Lynne Meadow, Artistic Director; Barry Grove, Executive Producer); Produced by arrangement with Jon B. Platt, Scott Landis and Classic Stage Company

winner 2012 Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play [winner] 

Nina Arianda

Drama Desk Award

 2012 Outstanding Actor in a Play [nominee] 

Hugh Dancy


AP: "Nina Arianda Dominates Broadway's Venus in Fur"

David Ives' "Venus in Fur" begins with an exasperated playwright-director complaining to his fiancee about his long day watching auditions. He's had to see 35 incompetent actresses.

Then the 36th comes barreling into the audition room many hours too late and proves more than he ever imagined. Of course, it helps if that actress is in real life none other than Nina Arianda.

The play, which caused much excitement off-Broadway last winter, has been brought to Broadway with the fearsome Arianda intact by The Manhattan Theatre Club, whose production opened Tuesday at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.

This is a two-character drama that should come with an NC-17 rating – an exploration of sadomasochism that has Arianda dressed in tight leather, garters, her undies. Both she and British co-star Hugh Dancy take turns wearing a studded dog collar. "Mary Poppins," it ain't.

The play is inspired by Austrian novelist Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's erotic 1870 book that depicts a couple deriving sexual pleasure from suffering pain and humiliation. Ives has used that as a starting point to delve into the notion of power and powerlessness, as well as deep, secret longings than transcend time and culture.

Ives constructs the contemporary character of playwright-director Thomas (Dancy), who is auditioning actresses for his new play adapted from Sacher-Masoch's novel. It's going poorly and a storm is raging outside when the beautiful Vanda (Arianda) comes in and seems a spectacularly poor match for the role – she's vulgar, only flipped through the play on the train and has brought a bag full of tawdry costumes.

"Just thought I'd kinda get into the part. I mean it's basically S&M right? The play?" she asks.

"Not exactly. And it does take place in 1870," he replies.

Vanda pleads for an audition and Thomas consents, against his better judgment. Then something startling happens: Vanda, this coarse actress with a skimpy resume, suddenly sparkles in the role of a regal woman from the Austro-Hungarian Empire whose lover tries to persuade her to dominate him.

Thomas and Vanda dip in and out of character as they interrogate the play-within-the-play for the rest of the 100-minute, intermissionless production, with Vanda gaining the upper hand as the audition continues. There are odd things about this woman: How did she get the whole script? How does she know so much about Thomas' private life? Had she already memorized the part?

All the action takes place in John Lee Beatty's grim rehearsal space, complete with metal table, coffee machine, lit-up exit sign and fluorescent lights. A huge metal heating pipe in the middle of the room gets multiple uses – a stand-in for a statue as well as a handy place to tie people up.

Arianda switches between her unsophisticated, contemporary character and the polished, late-19th-century European aristocrat with effortless ease and skill. Dancy, who takes the role over from Wes Bentley, keeps up as best he can, but gets tripped up sometimes in the midst of a shift. Adding to the complexity, both adopt foreign accents – she an upper-crust British voice when playing the aristocrat, and he an American when playing the contemporary Thomas.

Walter Bobbie's direction is taut and dangerous. It wonderfully mixes a mystery story of Vanda's real identity with a parody of the audition process, and an examination of Sacher-Masoch's preoccupation with power in two time periods.

As Ives' play progresses, Vanda suggests improvements to Thomas' script and direction, delves into his motivation and psyche, and eventually challenges his sexist attitudes. Thomas, meanwhile, takes on the characteristics of his masochistic play-within-the-play character as Vanda raises the erotic stakes.

The audience will understand that Thomas is being led into a trap long before he does and lighting designer Peter Kaczorowski's lightening and Acme Sound Partners' thunder will help those who haven't gotten it yet. Along the way there's a bit of light bondage, some slapping and an erotic power play with a pair of steeply heeled, patent-leather dominatrix boots.

Dancy's transition from arrogant dictator to needy supplicant is first class, but Tony Award-nominated Arianda is simply fearsome. Her ability to go from dumb to powerful (also on show last season in the Broadway revival of "Born Yesterday") is remarkable and her physicality here, from her Noo Yawk accent to crossing her legs like a longshoreman in a frilly dress, is thrilling.

The last line of the play is "Hail, Aphrodite!" but it might as well be "Hail, Arianda!"


Replacement/Transfer Info

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

Samuel J. Friedman Theatre

(11/8/2011 - 12/18/2011)

Lyceum Theatre

(2/7/2012 - 6/17/2012)

Produced by Jon B. Platt, Scott Landis, Jessica R. Jenen, Scott M. Delman.

Associate Director: Ross Evans.

Company Manager: Carol M. Oune.

Understudy: Liv Rooth (Vanda).

View full site