There are times when I feel that I should tag my posts "The Minority Review". After listening to the audience hooting and hollering their approval for Roundabout Theatre Company's production of True West, that is exactly where I am positioned. I have no idea what play the audience saw - perhaps it was just one or two steps over in a different dimension. That would explain it.
Roundabout Theatre Company presents the first-ever Broadway revival of Sam Shepard's Tony Award & Pulitzer Prize-nominated drama True West, starring Tony & Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke and Golden Globe nominee Paul Dano.
True West first premiered in July 1980 at San Francisco’s Magic Theatre, where Sam Shepard was serving as the playwright-in-residence. Peter Coyote and Jim Haynie took on the central roles of the infamous, sparring brothers Austin and Lee, respectively, and the production would also transfer to the Marines Memorial Theatre in San Francisco in 1981, with Ebbe Roe Smith replacing Mr. Coyote as Austin.
Meanwhile, the off-Broadway premiere of True West would be staged at the Public Theater, beginning performances in December 1980 and starring celebrated actors Tommy Lee Jones as Austin and Peter Boyle as Lee. Although the play enjoyed only a short run at the Public, it was later revived off-Broadway by Steppenwolf Theatre Company, opening at the Cherry Lane Theatre in October 1982 and running for a staggering 762 performances through to August 1984. Its original company members included John Malkovich as Lee and Gary Sinise as Austin, who were little known at the time. Malkovich, in particular, garnered great critical acclaim and took home the Obie, Clarence Derwent and Theatre World awards for his performance. The play became a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1983 and, in addition, it was broadcast on PBS, starring Malkovich and Sinise, in January 1984 as part of its “American Playhouse” television series.
The long-overdue Broadway premiere of True West was staged at Circle in the Square from February through to July 2000. The production was headlined by John C. Reilly and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, who created headlines themselves by alternating in the roles of Austin and Lee through the Broadway run. The production was widely celebrating, earning a total of four Tony Award nominations – for “Best Play,” “Best Direction of a Play” (for Matthew Warchus), and two “Best Actor in a Play” nominations (for Reilly and Hoffman).
True West was again immortalised on screen in August 2000, this time airing on Showtime. Filmed in front of a live studio audience, this version of the play starred Bruce Willis and Chad Smith.
The Roundabout Theatre Company’s Broadway revival sees the return of Ethan Hawke to the Broadway stage, having previously wowed New York audiences with his Tony-nominated performance as Michael Bakunin in the three parts of The Coast of Utopia, presented in repertory from November 2006 to May 2007. He also appeared in the 2003 Broadway revival of Henry IV, made his Broadway debut in the 1992 revival of The Seagull and was last seen on the Great White Way in the title role of the 2013 revival of Macbeth. His co-star Paul Dano last appeared on Broadway in the 2010 premiere of A Free Man of Color and, earlier on his career, he was part of the Broadway companies of the 1996 revival of Inherit the Wind and 1995 revival of A Month in the Country. Rounding out the cast are Marylouise Burke and Gary Wilmes.
(Photos by Joan Marcus)
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Opposites attack in Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated play about two brothers with more in common than they think. Holed up in their mother’s California house, screenwriter Austin and lowlife Lee wrestle with big issues—and each other. Order vs. chaos. Art vs. commerce. Typewriter vs. toaster...Shepard’s rip-roaring classic returns to Broadway, gleefully detonating our misguided myths of family, identity and the American Dream.