Beginning November 2, playwright Simon Bent's Elling starts previews on Broadway. The comedy is based on the Ingvar Ambjørnsen novel and Academy Award-nominated Norwegian film from 2001.
The play itself was originally mounted at London's Bush Theatre in 2007. Now on Broadway, Doug Hughes will helm a new Elling starring Tony-winning actor Denis O'Hare in the title role. O'Hare will be joined by Brendan Fraser in his Broadway debut as Kjell, Jennifer Coolidge as Reidun, Richard Easton as Alfons and Jeremy Shamos as Frank.
Elling appears to be purposely be marketing itself as enigmatic. Witness the puzzle pieces on its website, Facebook and Twitter pages. It's such a puzzle, that each are surprisingly bereft of any real information regarding the show. To find a description, you must turn to Telecharge, the official ticketbroker for the play, which describes the comedy as follows:
Set in the current day, Elling is a comedy about a wildly mismatched pair of roommates trying to embrace life, love, friendship, pizza, poetry and women. Denis O’Hare plays obsessive/compulsive Elling. Brendan Fraser, plays the wildly enthusiastic gentle giant Kjell. Jennifer Coolidge plays Reidun, the object of Kjell’s considerable affection, and Richard Easton plays Alfons, Elling’s unlikely poet mentor.When produced in London a few years back, the West End Whingers hailed the show as "A feel good story of the first degree. It's also utterly charming and very funny." Broadway.com described the London incarnation of Elling as follows:
Mummy's boy Elling and his roommate, the uncouth, reluctant virgin Kjell Bjarne, are the Odd Couple of Oslo: a pair of confused souls taking their first steps in the outside world after years of an isolated and institutional life. Given a flat in the city by social services, their mission is to either re-assimilate themselves into society or be forcibly returned to the asylum. All they have to do is convince their social worker that they really are "normal" -- even if it does feel safer sleeping in a wardrobe.O'Hare and Coolidge alone were enough to compel me to get my tickets early. Those two were responsible for some truly memorable theatrical experiences, but I'm also thrilled that Easton will be back on Broadway and can attest to Shamos' stage work. The wild card certainly is Fraser, who appears to be the producers' movie star insurance card for selling tickets. Starting Tuesday, we'll see whether he has the mettle.
The limited run of Elling opens at Broadway's Ethel Barrymore Theatre on November 21 and is scheduled through March 20, 2011.
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).
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