Guide to 'The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window' starring Oscar Isaac and Rachel Brosnahan
These two A-list stars reprise their roles from an Off-Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry's play at the James Earl Jones Theatre for 80 performances only.
This is your sign to see Oscar Isaac in his Broadway debut alongside Rachel Brosnahan, sharing the stage in a revival by a celebrated playwright. The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window, a lesser-known work by A Raisin in the Sun playwright Lorraine Hansberry, hits the James Earl Jones Theatre stage for 80 performances only after a limited Off-Broadway run earlier this year.
These veterans of stage and screen portray married couple Sidney and Iris Brustein, whose idealistic, bohemian life gets turned upside down as their romance crumbles. Hansberry's play was ahead of its time, tackling sociopolitical issues like corruption, anti-Semitism, homosexuality, and more that the Brusteins suddenly wake up to. Her play wasn't only relevant for a short window of time — it remains urgent and unmissable, especially with the award-winning actors in the spotlight.
Learn important performance information, history, and fun facts about The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window on Broadway below, and get tickets to see this show's return to the big stage after 50 years.
What is The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window about?
The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window centers on writer Sidney and aspiring actress Iris Brustein, a married couple living a bohemian life in 1960s Greenwich Village. The couple's relationship strains, due in large part to the once-apolitical Sidney's involvement in a candidate's campaign. His ideals for change are out of reach, forcing the couple to honestly confront the difficult realities of life.
Where is The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window playing?
The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window is at the James Earl Jones Theatre. Originally named the Cort Theatre after its commissioner, the venue opened in 1912. In 2022, extensive renovations were completed and the theatre reopened under its current name, honoring Tony and Emmy Award winner James Earl Jones.
How long is The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window?
The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window runs approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes, including an intermission. This is within the average range for a Broadway show; they typically run anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours.
What days is The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window playing?
The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window plays Tuesday through Sunday, with two performances on Wednesdays and Saturdays and no performances on Mondays. For an up-to-date weekly performance schedule, visit the Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window page.
When did The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window premiere?
The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window premiered on Broadway in 1964, and to see a revival is a rare opportunity. Learn more about the history of the play and its playwright.
- 1964: The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window premieres on Broadway in October. Gabriel Dell and Rita Moreno starred as the Brusteins.
- 1965: On January 12, two days after The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window wraps its Broadway run, Hansberry dies. The Sign and A Raisin in the Sun were her only two plays staged in her lifetime.
- 1972: Sidney Brustein has a brief Broadway revival. Hal Linden and Zohra Lampert starred.
- 2016: The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window has its first major revival, this time in Chicago. Director Anne Kauffman staged the play and received critical praise.
- February 2023: Kauffman brings her acclaimed staging to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) for six weeks only. The production features an entirely different cast from the 2016 run, this time starring Oscar Isaac and Rachel Brosnahan.
- April 2023: Isaac and Brosnahan reprise their roles in a Broadway transfer of Kauffman's production, marking the first Broadway production in more than 50 years.
Who wrote The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window?
The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window is by Lorraine Hansberry. Her first and best-known play is A Raisin in the Sun, which tackles housing discrimination in 20th-century Chicago. That show made her the first African American female Broadway playwright in history.
Hansberry was also an author of essays, books, and newspaper articles, and she had published a sizable body of work before her death of cancer at 34.
The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window characters
In addition to the title character, The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window features an array of his friends, family, and acquaintances in 1960s Manhattan. Learn more about all the characters in Sidney Brustein.
- Sidney Brustein: A bohemian writer who dreams big, but often unrealistically. He adores Iris but, ironically, not her dream to pursue acting, which causes tension in their marriage.
- Iris Brustein: An aspiring actress who seeks to achieve independence and self-assurance over the course of the play.
- Alton Scales: Sidney's friend and a Black activist who gets Sidney involved in politics. He also falls in love with Gloria.
- Gloria Parodus: Iris's sister who claims to be a model but is hiding a secret, which strains her relationship with Alton.
- Wally O'Hara: A local NYC reform politician who earns Sidney's support, but he turns out not to be what he seems.
- Mavis Parodus Bryson: Iris and Gloria's sister. She is married, and Sidney and Iris's circle see her uptown life as boring compared to their bohemian life downtown.
- David Ragin: A gay playwright in Sidney's circle of friends.
- Max: An artist in Sidney's circle of friends.
Major productions of The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window
A Chicago Tribune critic called Hansberry's play "a masterpiece lost in plain sight," as the show has only received a handful of high-profile performances. Learn more about the original Broadway production and its revivals below.
- 1964 Broadway premiere: The Broadway debut production of The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window starred Gabriel Dell and Rita Moreno. Due to mixed reviews, the show only ran for just under four months. It was initially due to close earlier, but celebrities including James Baldwin, Sammy Davis, and Paddy Chayefsky campaigned to raise funds to keep the show open.
- 1972 Broadway revival: Hal Linden and Zohra Halpert led the first Sidney Brustein Broadway revival. That run was extremely limited, lasting only two weeks.
- 2016 Chicago revival: The next time Sidney Brustein appeared on a major stage was more than 40 years after its last New York run. Anne Kauffman directed the play, and her staging received rave reviews, renewing interest in the show.
- 2023 Off-Broadway premiere: Kauffman staged her production in Brooklyn in 2023. Though it was technically an Off-Broadway production, it was Broadway-caliber, with performances in an 800-seat theatre and Broadway-caliber stars at the helm: Oscar Isaac and Rachel Brosnahan.
- 2023 Broadway revival: Isaac and Brosnahan's star power propelled the BAM production to the Broadway stage. This revival marks Isaac's Broadway debut and Brosnahan's first Broadway show in 10 years, following 2013's The Big Knife.
Celebrities who have performed in The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window
The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window may not have had many productions, but its few have been star-studded. Learn about the celebrities who have appeared in Hansberry's play over the years, and read more about the current stars' stage careers.
- Oscar Isaac: Isaac is a Golden Globe-winning actor making his Broadway debut as Sidney Brustein. His many notable screen projects include Scenes From a Marriage, Dune, Moon Knight, and the latest Star Wars film trilogy.
- Rachel Brosnahan: Emmy Award winner Brosnahan, who plays Iris Brustein, is best known for playing the title character on the hit TV show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She's also an Emmy nominee for House of Cards and the star of films like I'm Your Woman.
- Gabriel Dell: Dell was the original Sidney Brustein on Broadway. He's best known for playing one of the Bowery Boys, a group of fictional kids that appeared in nearly 50 Hollywood films.
- Rita Moreno: Moreno played Iris Brustein opposite Dell in The Sign on Broadway in 1964. She had won an Oscar two years before for playing Anita in the West Side Story film, and that remains one of her most famous roles. The Sign was her second Broadway show, and she's gone on to earn EGOT status.
Fun facts about The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window
Take a closer peek into the window and learn more about The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window and Hansberry.
- The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window reflects some aspects of Hansberry's own life. She and her husband (who, like Sidney, was a Jewish writer) lived in Greenwich Village. They were activists there, even participating in a protest the night before their wedding.
- Just a few months before The Sign went up off Broadway at BAM, The Public Theater revived A Raisin in the Sun off Broadway.
- Hansberry's life and work were influenced by figures such as Langston Hughes, W.E.B. DuBois, and Duke Ellington, all of whom and more frequented her family home from an early age.
- The Sign tackles sociopolitical issues that remain relevant today, but it also includes era-specific references to major figures in history and pop culture. They range from Fidel Castro to Joan Baez to Daniel Boone.
- The 2023 BAM revival of The Sign came about because Daniel Binder, BAM's artistic director, had a personal interest in sharing Hansberry's works with modern audiences. He also produced the first Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun, for which Audra McDonald and Phylicia Rashad won Tonys in 2004.
How to get The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window tickets
The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window is playing for 80 performances only, so the window to get tickets is short. Don't miss the rare chance to see two celebrated stars share the stage in an equally rare revival from one of America's greatest playwrights.
Top image credit: Photo credit: Oscar Isaac and Rachel Brosnahan. (Photo courtesy of production)
In-line images credit: The cast of The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window off Broadway. (Photos by Julieta Cervantes)
Originally published on