Tuesday, October 06, 2009

After Three Miss Julies Comes After Miss Julie

After Three Miss Julies Comes After Miss Julie

You'd be forgiven for thinking that the Mark Brokaw-helmed After Miss Julie was yet another in a steady stream of Roundabout revivals the nonprofit theatre company routinely mounts on Broadway. You'd be a tad bit wrong.

Currently in previews at the American Airlines Theatre, this "new" play stars Sienna Miller in the titular role alongside Jonny Lee Miller and Marin Ireland.

While August Strindberg's 1888 Swedish play Miss Julie certainly serves as the source material, this newer Donmar Warehouse import written by Patrick Marber takes place in London during the heady summer of 1945, shortly after the conclusion of World War II.

Roundabout describes the play as follows:
She was the girl with everything ... except him. Sienna Miller ("Factory Girl") and Jonny Lee Miller ("Trainspotting") make their Broadway debuts in this provocative American premiere.

Patrick Marber's new version of August Strindberg's drama about class and sex transposes Miss Julie to the English countryside on the eve of the Labour Party's landslide victory in the summer of 1945. Young Miss Julie crosses a dangerous line when she engages in a forbidden flirtation with her father's handsome chauffeur, John.

Over the course of one passionate and unforgettable night, their steamy affair escalates into a high-stakes power struggle that takes a shocking turn. Tony Award nominee Marin Ireland (reasons to be pretty) stars as John's intended, Christine, and Mark Brokaw directs.
Miss Julie has had many lives in many different forms. Even that 2003 Donmar production of After Miss Julie in London was populated with a completely different cast (Kelly Reilly, who earned a 2004 Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress, along with Richard Coyle and Helen Baxendale) and helmed by a different director (Michael Grandage).

The first Broadway production of Strindberg's play in 1913 was only subtitled as Miss Julie. Produced as Countess Julie at the 48th Street Theatre, the Mary Shaw-directed work lasted a mere three performances.

Rising from its ashes over 40 years later in 1956 at Rialto's Phoenix Theatre as Miss Julie And The Stronger, the George Tabori-helmed revival lasted a bit longer: 33 performances. This incarnation was actually two Strindberg works playing in repertory. Viveca Lindfors was cast in the eponymous role and appeared in both plays, as did Ruth Ford and Jamie Smith. Acting great James Daly -- father to both Tyne and Timothy Daly -- portrayed the role of Jean in Miss Julie.

The next time Miss Julie paid a Main Stem visit was in 1962 at the Cort Theatre. Once again, the Strindberg play only managed to eke out just three performances. It's understandable considering that it was not only playing in repertory with The Father and Long Day's Journey Into Night, but all three plays were performed as originally written ... entirely in Swedish! Inge Tidblad held the title role, along with Irma Christenson as Kristin and Ulf Palme as

Given the rather bizarre track record of previous incarnations, does Marber's fresh take on Strindberg's original play have what it takes to make audiences sit up and take notice? Perhaps with the estimable Mark Brokaw at the helm, along with the eye-popping cast, Roundabout may very well have a steamy winner.

After Miss Julie is currently scheduled as a limited run through December 6, 2009. I'll be taking in the show just a day or so after its October 22 opening and will post my SOB Review then.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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