The first opening of Broadway’s busy fall 2010 season comes in the form of “Brief Encounter,” a reinvention of Noël Coward’s classic screenplay. Adapted and directed by Emma Rice, the romantic drama-turned-multimedia musical opened last night, September 28, at Studio 54.
“Brief Encounter” stars Hannah Yelland and Tristan Sturrock as the respective lonely housewife Laura and married doctor Alec, whose chance meeting in a train station evolves into love. A parallel storyline, based on Coward’s one-act play “Still Life,” follows two other train station couples — played by Annette McLaughlin and Joseph Alessi, and Dorothy Atkinson and Gabriel Ebert.
Under Rice’s direction, “Brief Encounter” employs projected videos, puppetry and choreographed flying acts to tell the iconic story of reserved British romance. The nine-member cast also adds an element of song and dance to the unfolding drama, as they incorporate selections from Coward’s songbook.
Since previews began September 10, capacity at the 1,002-seat venue has risen from just 63 percent during its first two weeks to 85 percent for the week ending September 26. According to the Broadway League, “Brief Encounter” has grossed $561,072 so far, with regular ticket prices set from $37 to $127.
The Roundabout Theatre Company presentation comes to New York by way of London’s Kneehigh Theatre, which premiered the play to critical acclaim in 2008. The production also played to high praise last winter in Brooklyn before moving across the bridge for this Great White Way debut.
Broadway’s own encounter with the production will be brief; Studio 54 only houses the play through December 5. Performances are staged Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
“Brief Encounter” runs 90 minutes without intermission at Studio 54, located at 254 West 54th Street in New York, NY. More details about the performance schedule and ticketing are available on Roundabout’s official Web site.
Opening Night: “Brief Encounter”
|Variety||Steven Suskin||“‘Brief Encounter’ takes an atmospheric film with romantic sweep and heightens those emotions, waves crashing and lovers flying head-over-heels.”|
|New York Times||Ben Brantley||“… surely the most enchanting work of stagecraft ever inspired by a movie.”|
|Hollywood Reporter||Frank Scheck||“The overall effect is visually dazzling, but the neatest trick is that the technological gimmickry never overwhelms the simple emotionality of the tale.”|
|TheaterMania||David Finkle||“…the company simultaneously and seamlessly mock the source material devilishly, yet also honor it wholeheartedly.”|
|New York Daily News||Joe Neumaier||“…cheeky and charming, inventive and finely acted.”|
|New York Post||Elizabeth Vincentelli||“[Rice] brings up songs, puppets, projections and moving sets, but it never feels gimmicky: Everything serves the story.”|