Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's A Profession: Cherry Jones To Make Broadway Return

It's A Profession: Cherry Jones To Make Broadway Return

Those rose-colored "glasses" being worn in the poster for the upcoming Broadway revival of Mrs. Warren's Profession not only work in terms of how the title character's daughter initially views her mother, but also how I'm at least momentarily viewing Roundabout Theatre Company.

Not only are they bringing my personal favorite show I saw anywhere last year to Broadway, but they're also responsible for enticing Cherry Jones back to the Great White Way.

As the titular character in Mrs. Warren's Profession, Jones finally makes her overdue return to Broadway in Doug Hughes' revival of the George Bernard Shaw work. The play centers on the lengths one mother goes toward keep her daughter comfortable, including one well-kept secret. Roundabout describes the play as follows:
Tony Award winner Cherry Jones returns to Broadway in George Bernard Shaw’s scorching tour de force! Mrs. Warren’s Profession tells the story of Kitty Warren, a mother who makes a terrible sacrifice for her daughter Vivie’s independence. The clash of these two strong-willed but culturally constrained women is the spark that ignites the ironic wit of one of Shaw's greatest plays.
Jones will be joined by Sally Hawkins as her daughter Vivie, Edward Hibbert as Mr. Praed, Adam Driver as Frank Gardner, Mark Harelik as Sir George Crofts and Michael Siberry as the Reverend Samuel Gardner.

Hughes' revival marks the sixth time Mrs. Warren's Profession has been mounted on Broadway.

Written in 1893, it wasn't until 1905 that the play was first produced on the Great White Way. Due to its highly controversial subject matter (at the time), it was essentially shut down after just one performance when the cast and crew were arrested by the police. The play was revived in 1907 for 25 performances, then again briefly in 1918 and once more for another 25 performances in 1922. Actress Mary Shaw starred as Kitty Warren for each of those four earliest incarnations.

Then, the play lay dormant, at least on the Great White Way, for over fifty more years before it was revived at Lincoln Center in 1976. Gerald Freedman directed a stellar cast, including Ruth Gordon as Kitty, Lynn Redgrave as Vivie, Edward Herrmann as Frank, Philip Bosco as George and Milo O'Shea as the Reverend. While the revival would only play 55 regular performances, it earned Tony nominations for both Herrmann and Redgrave (Herrmann would win for Best Featured Actor).

My only previous experience with this work was back in 2003 at the Guthrie in Minneapolis. Fortunately, I was well-armed with their excellent study guide, which I strongly recommend reading only after you see the performance. It certainly increased my understanding of and overall enjoyment for what was once a truly groundbreaking work.

Previews for Mrs. Warren's Profession begin at the American Airlines Theatre on September 3, with opening night slated for one month later on October 3. The brief run is slated to conclude on November 28, 2010.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

In keeping with the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations that unfairly discriminate against bloggers, who are now required by law to disclose when they have received anything of value they might write about, please note that I have received nothing of value in exchange for this post.

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At 19 August, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Steve: I have my ticket in hand for Mrs Warren's Profession - can't wait.

Amazed to see that the last time this play was on Bway that Ruth Gordon (of Harold and Maude) was Mrs Warren and Lynn Redgrave was her daughter Vivie.

Checking up on ages, that meant that Ruth was 80 years old? The play calls for a 40-50ish woman and her 'daughter' a 22-year old.(Lynn Redgrave was 33 in 1976).

You know what would have been great? If in 1976 the fabulous Glenda Jackson was 'Mrs W" and the incomparable Cherry Jones (who was 20 yrs old in '76) was Vivie.

Bet that would have knocked 'em dead.

(I saw Glenda Jackson in 1975 as "Hedda Gabler," and in the same year also Ingrid Bergman in "The Constant Wife.") So you see we old goats are looking forward to seeing Cherry Jones and the 33-year old Sally Hawkins as Mother and Daughter.


At 20 August, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those are not ROSE colored glasses! They are poppies......something forbidden. Also, it has a special meaning in British politics, but I forget what.

The play is not about an opium den, despite the poppies. But it is about something equally shocking.

At 20 August, 2010, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Ah, but they ARE rose-colored, aren't they?! And the image appears to be the daughter who has always viewed her mother in a favorable way until a particular revelation is made. (Poppies have black seeds at the center, so I think you may be wrong. The Brits use poppies to commemorate those lost in defense of the country.)

At 20 August, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...


If they're supposed to be roses and not poppies, then the artist should have made them more like a rose and less like a poppy.

I did read the play and Vivie (who is really the lead character, and not Mrs Warren) has a rather detached view of her mother. She mentions drily to one of the other characters at the beginning of the play, "Well, we don't really know what she does for a living, do we?"

(That was a paraphrase.)

George Bernard Shaw is a very witty playwright and I sped through the entire play. Now I am catching up with "Major Barbara."

Still, there are a whole LOT of words for either "Mrs W" and "Vivie" to memorize, and you have to admire an actor or actress who could pull off this play.

So it is hard for me to imagine an eighty year old Ruth Gordon being able to do this play.


At 20 August, 2010, Blogger Dale said...

I can't wait to see this. I'm coming in October and will also see Brief Encounter based on your raves. I love Cherry and saw her in Doubt and Imaginary Friends previously. I may fit Next to Normal in as well, here's hoping anyway!

At 23 August, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Steve. Just thinking - wouldn't it be great if Mrs Warren's Profession became such huge financial success that it inspired The Powers That Be in Hollywood to make a movie of it?

Then Meryl Streep could star as "Mrs Warren" and Meryl's real-life daughter, Mamie Gummer, could star as "Vivie." (Mamie was a standout it the movie 'Taking Woodstock. She's a young blond who bears quite a resemblance to her famous mama.)

Then Cherry Jones could get another TV gig.

(the above was a joke. sort of.)


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