American Airlines Theatre, (1/16/2014 - 3/02/2014)

First Preview: Dec 20, 2013
Opening Date: Jan 16, 2014
Closing Date: Mar 02, 2014
Total Previews: 28
Total Performances: 52

Category: Play, Revival, Broadway
Description: A play in two parts
Setting: 1922-1928. New York City.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by Roundabout Theatre Company (Todd Haimes: Artistic Director; Harold Wolpert: Managing Director; Julia C. Levy: Executive Director; Sydney Beers, General Manager)

Produced by Roundabout Theatre Company (Todd Haimes: Artistic Director; Harold Wolpert: Managing Director; Julia C. Levy: Executive Director; Sydney Beers, General Manager)

Written by Sophie Treadwell; Original Music by Matthew Herbert

Directed by Lyndsey Turner; Choreographed by Sam Pinkleton; Assistant Director: Osheen Jones

Scenic Design by Es Devlin; Costume Design by Michael Krass; Lighting Design by Jane Cox; Sound Design by Matt Tierney; Hair and Wig Design by Paul Huntley; Make-Up Design by Tiffany Hicks; Associate Scenic Design: Evan F. Adamson; Associate Costume Design: Tracy Christensen; Associate Lighting Design: Tess James; Associate Sound Design: Alex Neumann

"Machinal" General Manager: Denise Cooper; Roundabout Associate Managing Director: Greg Backstrom; Company Manager: Carly DiFulvio Allen

Production Manager: Aurora Productions; Production Stage Manager: Beverly Jenkins; Assistant Stage Mgr: Mark Dobrow

Founding Director: Gene Feist; Dialect Coach: Kate Wilson; Casting: Jim Carnahan, C.S.A. and Carrie Gardner, C.S.A.; Roundabout Director of Development: Lynne Gugenheim Gregory; Roundabout Adams Associate Artistic Director: Scott Ellis; Roundabout Director of Marketing & Audience Development: Tom O'Connor; Press Representative: Polk & Co.; Advertising: SPOTCo, Inc.; Interactive Marketing: Situation Interactive; Photographer: Joan Marcus

Opening Night Cast

Rebecca Hall
Broadway debut
Young Woman
Suzanne BertishMother
Michael CumpstyHusband
Morgan SpectorLover
Damian BaldetHusband in Tenement/Second Man/Bailiff/Barber
Ashley BellTelephone Girl/Young Girl in Tenement
Jeff BiehlDoctor/Judge
Arnie BurtonMan in Bar/Defense Lawyer
Ryan DinningFiling Clerk/Boy in Bar/Second Reporter
Scott DrummondFirst Reporter/Second Guard
Dion GrahamMan in Tenement/Man in Bar/First Guard
Edward James HylandAdding Clerk/Priest
Jason LoughlinBellboy/Barber
Maria-Christina OliverasWoman in Tenement, Bar/Nurse/Court Reporter
Daniel PearceJailer
Henny RussellStenographer/Mother in Tenement/Matron
Karen WalshWife in Tenement/Woman in Bar
Michael Warner Man in Bar/Prosecution Lawyer

Understudies: Ashley Bell (Young Woman), Scott Drummond (Doctor/Judge, Man in Bar/Prosecution Lawyer, Man in Tenement/Man in Bar/First Guard), Jason Loughlin (Filing Clerk/Boy in Bar/Second Reporter, Husband in Tenement/Second Man/Bailiff/Barber, Lover), Maria-Christina Oliveras (Stenographer/Mother in Tenement/Matron, Wife in Tenement/Woman in Bar), Daniel Pearce (Adding Clerk/Priest, Man in Bar/Defense Lawyer) and Michael Warner (Husband)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

 2014 Best Scenic Design of a Play [nominee] 

Es Devlin

 2014 Best Costume Design of a Play [nominee] 

Michael Krass

 2014 Best Lighting Design of a Play [nominee] 

Jane Cox

 2014 Best Sound Design of a Play [nominee] 

Sound Design by Matt Tierney

Drama Desk Award

winner 2014 Outstanding Sound Design in a Play [winner] 

Sound Design by Matt Tierney

 2014 Outstanding Lighting Design [nominee] 

Jane Cox

Theatre World

winner 2014 Award [recipient] 

Rebecca Hall


AP: "'Machinal' still kicks despite being 86"

Eighty-six years is a long time between Broadway revivals, especially since they seem to be coming faster than they used to.

So “Machinal,” which first appeared on Broadway in 1928, opened Thursday with more than a few in the audience wondering if a play last seen here during the Calvin Coolidge administration was scrap metal or salvageable.

The answer: The Roundabout Theatre Company’s new production has kept the quirky engine but surrounded it with a good-looking chassis and new lighting and audio systems. It’s even put in the driving seat the enormously appealing Rebecca Hall under the artful, creative direction of Lyndsey Turner.

The result at the American Airlines Theatre is a quirky, sometimes melodramatic and expressionist scream from the past that somehow still can move you.

Written by journalist Sophie Treadwell, “Machinal” was inspired by the true story of Ruth Snyder, a New York woman who died in the electric chair in 1928, convicted of killing her husband following an affair.

The title comes from the French “mechanical” or “automatic,” and Treadwell uses staccato telegraphese, recurring and irritating rhythms and cliche-ridden repetition — the sounds of the nerve-racking city.

Her story is about a delicate dreamy woman named Helen Jones, who finds modern life unbearable — business, marriage and motherhood. Even commuting on a subway jammed up against an endless line of bodies is nauseating, as the terrific first scene shows.

“I’m all tight inside,” she tells her mother. “I can’t go on much longer like this.”

She marries her boss (a bombastic and perfectly off-putting Michael Cumpsty), starts an affair with a stud muffin (tough guy Morgan Spector, doing a little Brando), goes on trial when her husband ends up dead and ends up in the electric chair, as much a victim as a perpetrator. Murder may not be forgivable a solution, but it is somewhat more understandable.

Hall, known for her film work in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and “Iron Man 3,” uses her wide, soulful eyes to terrific effect, telegraphing her inexorable 95-minute march to ultimate tragedy. A tall, long-limbed beauty, Hall projects a coltish unease and otherworldliness in the role, a woman ultimately in the wrong place and time.

Set designer Es Devlin has created a massive revolving, wood-paneled box that reveals more-than-possible adaptations over nine scenes, including the march to the death house in which it spins as fast as the actors march.

The effect is marvelous, especially when wed with lighting designer Jane Cox’s unsettling brightness and shadows as well as harsh bands of light, and Matt Tierney’s soundscape that includes mechanical thumps and engine noises.

“Machinal” is by no means perfect or smooth. There’s a court scene that seems a jarring change from the mood of the rest, and it’s peopled by flat characters spouting gibberish. Not for everyone, it’s a moody, jarring meditation on the modern world that’s a critique of capitalism, mechanization and male-dominated power. For 86, it looks pretty, weirdly good.


New York Daily News: "Machinal"

Back on Broadway for the first time since 1928, “Machinal” draws loose inspiration from real-life husband-killer Ruth Snyder to tell a story of a desperate young woman who resorts to homicide to escape the misery of a suffocating, dronelike life.

The dehumanization depicted in the drama includes marriage and motherhood — typically the stuff of dreams, not nightmares — so journalist-turned-playwright Sophie Treadwell’s seldom-seen “masterpiece” (at least in the words of the Playbill) offers the potential for a gutsy and subversive take on life.

Cheers to the Roundabout for choosing this atypical and rather risky show — an Expressionist play with emblematic characters and spare, staccato dialogue. But kudos don’t equal success.

Treadwell’s play is stylish but slight. It does, however, provide compelling evidence for the gifts of British director Lyndsey Turner, whose New York debut demands you sit bolt upright and take notice.

To create the mood of a woman trapped, Turner and her ace design team place her inside a rotating box that morphs with each scene. Purring with sleekly elegant beauty, the physical staging is the star here.

That much is clear from the wordless opening, which shows Helen (Rebecca Hall) getting groped in a sardine-can subway car on her way to her soul-stifling stenographer job. Once there, her workplace is jammed with robotic colleagues — little respite from the small apartment she shares with an oppressive mother (Suzanne Bertish).

Helen’s marriage to her jabbering boss (Michael Cumpsty) is just as choking. She recoils from his touch. She doesn’t want her baby daughter.

What follows is illogical plotting. Somehow, for example, the dead-eyed, plodding Helen ends up in a bar and meets a young man (Morgan Spector), who opens her up like the flowered dress she wears. Why is Helen even there? Where does that 180-degree turn come from? It’s all completely unclear.

Hall, known for films like “The Town” and “Iron Man 3,” hides her beauty and plummy English accent as Helen. She’s sturdy at some times, singsong in others. Hall’s stature and height allow her to strike a physical presence, but when it comes to Helen’s freeform monologues, she’s emotionally empty.

“Machinal” doesn’t elicit strong reaction — but it’s well served by the world and well-oiled machine created by Turner.

New York Daily News

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