Booth Theatre, (12/07/2014 - 2/21/2015)

First Preview: Nov 07, 2014
Opening Date: Dec 07, 2014
Closing Date: Feb 21, 2015
Total Previews: 35
Total Performances: 83

Category: Play, Drama, Revival, Broadway
Setting: Victorian London.

Opening Night Production Staff

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

Produced by James L. Nederlander, Terry Allen Kramer, Catherine Adler, Roger Berlind, Caiola Productions, Patrick Catullo, Roy Furman, Larry Hirschhorn, Jeffrey Finn Productions, Van Kaplan, Edward M. Kaufmann, Hal Luftig, Arielle Tepper Madover, Peter May, Stephanie P. McClelland, The Shubert Organization (Philip J. Smith: Chairman; Robert E. Wankel: President), Douglas Smith, Jonathan M. Tisch, WLE MSG, LLC. and Scott & Brian Zeilinger

This production was originally produced and presented in July 2012 by The Williamstown Theatre Festival (Stephen M. Kaus, Producer; Jenny Gersten, Artistic Director Emeritus)

Written by Bernard Pomerance; Original Music by John Gromada

Directed by Scott Ellis; Associate Director: Jordan Fein

Scenic Design by Timothy R. Mackabee; Costume Design by Clint Ramos; Lighting Design by Philip S. Rosenberg; Sound Design by John Gromada; Projection Design by Timothy R. Mackabee; Hair and Wig Design by Charles G. LaPointe; Makeup Design by Ashley Ryan; Associate Scenic Design: Libby Stadstad; Associate Costume Design: Claire Aquila; Associate Lighting Design: Joel Shier; Associate Sound Design: Charles Coes; Associate Hair and Wig Design: Liz Printz; Moving Light and Video Programmer: Alex Fogel

General Manager: 101 Productions, Ltd.; Company Manager: Bobby Driggers; Assistant Co. Mgr: Andrew J. White

Production Manager: Aurora Productions; Production Stage Manager: Davin De Santis; Stage Manager: Diane DiVita

Dialect Coach: Kate Wilson; Vocal Coach: Kate Wilson; Fight Consultant: Thomas Schall; Casting: Calleri Casting; Advertising: SPOTCo, Inc.; Digital Marketing: SPOTCo, Inc.; Press Representative: Boneau / Bryan-Brown; Photographer: Joan Marcus

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Opening Night Cast

Patricia ClarksonMrs. Kendal
Bradley CooperJohn Merrick
Alessandro NivolaFrederick Treves
Anthony HealdRoss
Bishop How
Chris BannowPinhead
Will
Orderly
Peter BradburyOrderly
Voice
Belgian Policeman
Eric ClemEnglish Policeman
Orderly
Scott LowellSnork
Pinhead Manager
Lord John
Orderly
Amanda Lea MasonPinhead
Countess
Nurse
Kathryn MeisleMs. Sandwich
Princess Alexandra
Nurse
Marguerite StimpsonDuchess
Nurse
Henry StramCarr Gomm
Conductor
Emma ThorneNurse

Standby: Lucas Calhoun (John Merrick)

Understudies: Chris Bannow (Frederick Treves), Peter Bradbury (Bishop How, Carr Gomm, Conductor, Ross), Eric Clem (Lord John, Pinhead Manager, Snork), Kathryn Meisle (Mrs. Kendal), Marguerite Stimpson (Miss Sandwich, Nurse, Princess Alexandra) and Emma Thorne (Duchess, Nurse 2, Nurse 3)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

 2015 Best Revival of a Play [nominee] 

Produced by James L. Nederlander, Terry Allen Kramer, Catherine Adler, Roger Berlind, Caiola Productions, Patrick Catullo, Roy Furman, Larry Hirschhorn, Jeffrey Finn Productions, Van Kaplan, Edward M. Kaufmann, Hal Luftig, Arielle Tepper Madover, Peter May, Stephanie P. McClelland, The Shubert Organization (Philip J. Smith: Chairman; Robert E. Wankel: President), Douglas Smith, Jonathan M. Tisch, WLE MSG, LLC. and Scott & Brian Zeilinger; Originally produced by The Williamstown Theatre Festival (Stephen M. Kaus, Producer; Jenny Gersten, Artistic Director Emeritus)

 2015 Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play [nominee] 

Bradley Cooper

 2015 Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play [nominee] 

Alessandro Nivola

 2015 Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play [nominee] 

Patricia Clarkson

Drama Desk Award

winner 2015 Outstanding Revival of a Play [winner] 

Produced by James L. Nederlander, Terry Allen Kramer, Catherine Adler, Roger Berlind, Caiola Productions, Patrick Catullo, Roy Furman, Larry Hirschhorn, Jeffrey Finn Productions, Van Kaplan, Edward M. Kaufmann, Hal Luftig, Arielle Tepper Madover, Peter May, Stephanie P. McClelland, The Shubert Organization (Philip J. Smith: Chairman; Robert E. Wankel: President), Douglas Smith, Jonathan M. Tisch, WLE MSG, LLC. and Scott & Brian Zeilinger

 2015 Outstanding Actor in a Play [nominee] 

Bradley Cooper

Reviews


AP: "Bradley Cooper is terrific in Broadway's 'The Elephant Man,' making beauty disappear"

Leave it to the Sexiest Man Alive of 2011 to give us a lesson about ugliness.

Bradley Cooper quite literally transforms himself in the new Broadway revival of "The Elephant Man" from a Hollywood hunk into a man of "physical hideousness, incapacitating deformities and unremitting pain."

Cooper's left hand curls uncomfortably, his left foot grows weak and gimpy, his torso drops awkwardly, his mouth twists as if paralyzed by a stroke and his voice turns into a heavy-breathing, wet lisp.

It might not seem like it, but make no mistake: The production that opened Sunday at the Booth Theatre is a vanity project.

Cooper, known for so long for his looks first and talent second, seems to want to focus on his skills by choosing Bernard Pomerance's play about John Merrick, the horribly deformed man who galvanized London society in the late 19th century. It is a dangerous gamble, but Cooper not only pulls it off, he does it quite brilliantly. He manages to look ugly outside and yet beautiful inside.

Pomerance's tale showcases the triumph of a very human spirit, personified by the sensitive, almost saintly Merrick. This is a man who finds safe haven in a London hospital after spending much of his life in second-rate carnivals as a freak attraction — and then blossoms. What's more, he becomes the confidante of celebrated actresses, statesmen and even royalty.

It's easy to see why such diverse performers as David Bowie, Mark Hamill and Billy Crudup would want to portray John Merrick, a man who took such joy in the most ordinary things. "Sometimes I think my head is so big because it is so full of dreams," Merrick says. "Do you know what happens when dreams cannot get out?"

Cooper gives Merrick an impish quality, a man who knows how to turn on the charm when he needs to and even flirt. It is a deeply yearning, fully humanized vision of Merrick. In addition to erasing his own heartthrob persona here, Cooper gets to play with the whole notion of fame and celebrity.

"I would prefer it where no one stared at me," Merrick confides at one point. To an actress who visits him, Merrick comments: "You must display yourself for your living then. Like I did."

Director Scott Ellis has in Cooper not only an actor considered one of the best looking in the world ready to defile himself, but a supporting cast that is more than up to the challenge.

Alessandro Nivola plays Dr. Frederick Treves, Merrick's doctor and chief defender, with a coiled Victorian intensity and a hint of menace. His breakdown at the end is painfully effective, a loosening of all the contradictions he's facing. Patricia Clarkson as the admiring Mrs. Kendal is the opposite — warm and feminine, with a wise wit. Her reappearance at the end of the play is not scripted but perfect nonetheless.

Anthony Heald in the dual roles of Merrick's carnival owner and later Bishop Walsham How, manages to keep both characters' exploitative needs barely under the surface. It is he who notices that the common men who paid money to stare at a freak are not much different from the rich who now enjoy being around Merrick. "Difference now is you ain't charging for it," he says.

Pomerance's play puts Merrick in the middle of a tug-of-war between science and religion. The Elephant Man becomes whatever the viewer wants. "I conclude that we have polished him like a mirror, and shout hallelujah when he reflects us to the inch," says his doctor.

This two-hour revival, performed at a crisp pace, has been made handsome thanks to Timothy R. Mackabee's set design that leans on the ingenious use of multiple curtains — echoing doctor's office curtains that conceal and reveal in a flash — and Philip S. Rosenberg's moody and complex lighting work, which ranges from harsh overhead spotlights when Merrick craves dark corners, to the golden, genteel lighting of upper society.

The play ends on a tantalizing note, with Merrick's last actions perhaps open to interpretation. The playwright has The Elephant Man die in his sleep, of natural causes, but Cooper seems to be hinting at another, more profound end. In any case, this is a beautiful production in every way, particularly because its leading actor has so well hidden his own beauty.


AP
12/07/2014

New York Daily News: "'The Elephant Man,' theater review"

Step right up, folks, and check out the Hollywood heartthrob delivering a brilliant star turn in “The Elephant Man.”

That must-see attraction is Bradley Cooper, a two-time Oscar nominee and one-time Sexiest Man Alive, whose riveting performance powers the revival of Bernard Pomerance’s fact-based drama, first staged on Broadway in 1979.

The gimmick is the same now as then: The actor portraying the title character, horribly disfigured Englishman John Merrick, wears no makeup or prosthetics, so audiences must imagine the ugly exterior concealing the handsome, sweet and romantic man underneath. There’s nothing subtle about the conceit, but it still works four decades later.

And the credit for that belongs to Cooper, who was nominated for Oscars for “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle.” To reflect Merrick’s physical ravages, the Hollywood A-lister twists and holds his body in punishing positions. For two hours, he forges his mouth into a misshapen O and labors to speak. Grim stuff. But the production boasts ample humor, largely due to Cooper’s delivery.

Other basics of the Tony-Award-winning original production remain: Merrick lives in side-show squalor and abuse before being rescued by the rigid but kindly Dr. Treves (Alessandro Nivola, first-class).

Before his death at age 27 in 1890, Merrick became a society darling thanks to an unconventional actress (Patricia Clarkson, poignant). But make no mistake: Merrick remained an outsider and was exploited by poor scoundrels and posh do-gooders alike.

That’s the most potent takeaway from Pomerance’s work, which brims with intelligence and ideas about human nature and the arbitrariness of life. But the script falls into traps of heavy-handed didactics.

This new Broadway staging by director Scott Ellis — seen in 2012 at the Williamstown Theatre Festival with the same three principals — is spare and fluid. Sliding drapes smartly evoke the idea that Merrick is a specimen to be gawked at. What’s really on view are man’s inhumanity and a topnotch Cooper.


New York Daily News
12/07/2014

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