The unlikely revival of the notorious Broadway flop “La Bête” made a strong second impression when it opened at the Music Box Theatre last...

The unlikely revival of the notorious Broadway flop “La Bête” made a strong second impression when it opened at the Music Box Theatre last night, October 14. Directed this time around by Matthew Warchus, the limited engagement is earning critical nods for turning an unwieldy playbook into a comical tour de force.

The Moliere-inspired satire, written by David Hirson in rhyming verse, is set in 1654 France. Mark Rylance stars as the crude street-performer Valere opposite David Hyde Pierce’s stodgy court dramatist Elomire. Joanna Lumley rounds out the principle cast as their royal patroness, the Princess, who forces the two into an odd-couple collaboration.

“La Bête” lands on the Great White Way after a sold-out run in London’s West End earlier this year. In addition to Warchus’ direction, the creative team features Mark Thompson (set and costumes), Hugh Vanstone (lighting), Simon Baker (sound) and Claire van Kampen (music).

It is the first Broadway revival for the production, which made its Main Stem debut at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre in 1991. Though considered a Broadway failure at the time — closing after only 25 performances — it went on to achieve critical and commercial acclaim with a 1992 West End run led by Alan Cumming.

A run of 21 previews began on September 23 at the Music Box Theatre. Audiences in the 1,007-seat playhouse have remained steady around 88 percent. The limited engagement is scheduled to shutter February 12, 2011.

Regular ticket prices run from $76.50 up to $126.50, and premium seating options are priced from $176.50 up to $301.50 for select performance days and times. According to numbers from the Broadway League, the production grossed $325,141 for the week ending October 10, bringing its total gross up to $897,335 thus far.

“La Bête” runs an hour and 45 minutes, without intermission. Evening performances are staged Tuesday at 7 p.m., and Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. Matinees are staged Wednesday and Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

The Music Box Theatre is located at 239 West 45th Street in New York, NY. More details about the schedule and ticketing are available on the production’s official Web site.

Opening Night: “La Bête”

Publication Critic Review
New York Times Ben Brantley “Mr. Rylance is by far the best reason to revisit ‘La Bête.'”
Chicago Tribune Chris Jones “David Hyde Pierce might be the marquee name…but the night belongs to Rylance.”
Hollywood Reporter Frank Scheck “The brilliant comic talents of Mark Rylance and David Hyde Pierce…manage to make this intellectual exercise feel much more vital than it actually is.”
TheaterMania David Finkle “Unfortunately, the primary drawback of ‘La Bete’ is that Hirson can’t refrain from being didactic.”
New York Daily News Joe Dziemianowicz “‘La Bete’ is too unwieldy to be a perfect play, but this enjoyable revival finds the beauty in the beast.”
New York Post Elisabeth Vincentelli “‘La Bete’ loses steam after a first hour dominated by Rylance and Pierce.”