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'The Heiress' starring Jessica Chastain begins Broadway previews

'The Heiress' starring Jessica Chastain begins Broadway previews

By Caitlin Caffrey

Doors opened for previews of the new Broadway drama, " The Heiress" on Saturday, October 6 at the Walter Kerr Theatre in New York City.

The production stars Jessica Chastain (star of the recent movie, The Help) as Catherine Sloper, an awkward young heiress. Co-star Dan Stevens (of the hit television show Downtown Abbey), plays he handsome suitor who takes her by surprise. After long months of filming, the pair is excited to turn to a Broadway stage for a change of pace.

The shows official website explains that "The Heiress" is the story of a prominent New York Man's daughter, Catherine Sloper. The girl has grown up shy and protected. Audiences will follow her on a journey when she gains the attention of a young suitor. Catherine is faced with following her heat while also following the demands that her father has set for her. "Catherine must navigate the terrain of love and regret, desire and duty, a chance for happiness and the burden of fortune… as only an heiress can," reads theheiressonbroadway.com.

Although the play is set in the 1850's, Jessica Chastain told Entertainment Weekly the show is extremely current. "It's very relevant," said Chastain. She goes on to explain her character as "…a woman believing she is what the men in her life tell her she is, and it goes from her father to her suitor to finally at the end of the play, she's on her own."

The performance is a stage adaption of an 1880 novel titled Washington Square, written by Henry James. In the past, the book was made into a play in 1947, and a movie in 1949. A second film version of the book was created in 1997.

Dan Stevens spoke of the play with Time Out New York. "Everybody who knows the play says, 'Oh, you're playing Morris. He's a villain, a gold digger,' and I'm like, 'well, that's one way of looking at it,'" said Stevens. "The moral ambiguity between those three lead characters is more complex than that. I'm enjoying finding a real humanity for them, which is not always easy, because they behave in quite strange ways …I think Morris is both in love with Catherine and her lifestyle, the two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive."

Moisés Kaufman, who has been nominated for Tony Awards for his past playwright and directing work, directs the performance, and Ruth and Augustus Goetz wrote the script for the show. Oscar nominee and Emmy Award winner David Stratairn plays Catherine Sloper's father in the show. The cast also includes: Tony award winner Judith Ivey as Sloper's Aunt Lavinia, Molly Camp as Marian Almond, Kieran Campion as Arthur Townsend, Virginia Kull as Maria, Dee Nelson as Mrs. Montgomery and Caitlin O'Connel as Aunt Elizabeth.

Opening night for "The Heiress" is scheduled for November 1 and is planned for a short run, closing on February 10. Tickets for multiple performances are on sale now.

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