The Internet Broadway Database (IBDB) lists a total of 49 previous New York City productions stetching all the way back to 1768 for what is arguably The Bard's most controversial play. It's particularly provocative due to its depiction of the eponymous character and the ongoing debate over whether that characterization is anti-Semitic. (The play certainly gave me pause when I saw it for my first time a few years ago.)
It's been seven years since Pacino was last on Broadway's boards in another Jewish role as Harod in Salome, one I thought bordered on vile stereotypes. Pacino will be joined in The Merchant Of Venice by a large cast including Lily Rabe as Portia, Byron Jennings as Antonio, Jesse L. Martin as Gratiano, Christopher Fitzgerald as Launcelot and Charles Kimbrough as the Prince of Aragon.
The official Merchant Of Venice website describes the show as follows:
The Merchant Of Venice is one of Shakespeare’s most thrilling and controversial plays, rich with love and betrayal, forgiveness and revenge. The Jewish moneylender Shylock makes a loan to Antonio, a Christian merchant. Their loan contract, steeped in prejudice and centered on the play's infamous “pound of flesh,” sweeps the two men and everyone in their worlds into chaos. Only the insightful Portia can imagine a way forward, but for her and those she loves, even “the quality of mercy” has its limits.
Despite the lingering controversy over the work, just try getting a decent seat. And with only 78 performances scheduled, you may as well forget about any discounts for the production.
The Merchant Of Venice opens on November 7 and runs through January 9, 2011. (I'll be seeing the show not long after it opens.)
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).
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Labels: Al Pacino, Broadway, Byron Jennings, Charles Kimbrough, Christopher Fitzgerald, Daniel Sullivan, Jesse L. Martin, Lily Rabe, Play, Revival, The Merchant Of Venice, Transfer, William Shakespeare