The latest revival of “The Royal Family,” a play in three acts by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber, opened October 8 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre in New York, NY.
Doug Hughes directs the Manhattan Theatre Club’s presentation of this vintage 1927 play. It’s the story of a New York stage dynasty based loosely on the Barrymores of stage and movie fame. The Cavendish family includes widowed mother Fanny (played by Rosemary Harris), her daughter Julie (Jan Maxwell), and her granddaughter Gwen (Kelli Barrett).
Oscar Wolfe, longtime manager for the Cavendish family, was played on opening night by Tony Roberts. The actor had fallen ill during the production’s October 4 matinee, causing that performance to be cancelled. His understudy stepped into the role for the remainder of the previews, but Roberts received prolonged applause upon returning to the stage Thursday night.
This ensemble cast also includes Fred Arsenault, Caroline Stefanie Clay, Rufus Collins, Ana Gasteyer, John Glover, Reg Rogers and Henny Russell, among others. Set in an upscale Eastside duplex, the set by Lee Beatty has elicited gasps of admiration from audiences.
Previews began September 15. Attendance for the week ending October 4 was 4,194 for the 650-seat theater. Tickets ranged from $27 to $97 and the average paid admission was $41.38. The gross ticket sales for the week ending October 4 were $173,550, according to numbers from the Broadway League.
Performances run regularly on Tuesday at 7 p.m. and Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. There will be an additional performance on November 23 at 8 p.m.
On Wednesday, November 4, a matinee will take place at 1 p.m. There will be no matinee performance on Thursday, November 5. The theatre will also be dark on Thursday, November 26.
Run time is 2 hours and 45 minutes with two 10-minute intermissions. Samuel J. Friedman Theatre is located at 261 West 47th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue. More information is available at the production’s official Web site.
Opening Night: ‘The Royal Family’
|Variety||David Rooney||“Kaufman and Ferber’s play is both dusty and thin, but what keeps it entertaining is its unambiguous love for the theater…”|
|New York Times||Ben Brantley||“All the usual clichés associated with the thrill of stage acting — from the paralyzing precurtain jitters to the revitalizing embrace of an audience — are not so much spoken as exhaled, as if they were the breath of life.”|
|USA Today||Elysa Gardner||“Women wear the pants in this Family, and they’re a joy to behold.”|
|Entertainment Weekly||Thom Geier||“Kaufman and Ferber’s dialogue is still bitingly funny, and Maxwell’s center-stage meltdown at the end of the second act is a priceless showstopper.”|
|Playbill||Kenneth Jones||“In the play, ‘going on’ is as much about continuing a bloodline and its traditions as it is about getting up on the boards and doing a turn.”|
|Talkin’ Broadway||Matthew Murray||“…like peering into a fantasy world where the rules of contemporary logic simply do not apply.”|