A new comedy has arrived on the stage of Ethel Barrymore Theatre by way of Norway. Based on the award-winning Norwegian film of the...

A new comedy has arrived on the stage of Ethel Barrymore Theatre by way of Norway.

Based on the award-winning Norwegian film of the same name and adapted for the English stage by Simon Bent, “Elling” opened November 21. Doug Hughes directs the limited engagement, which is booked at the Barrymore through March 20, 2011.

Denis O’Hare stars as the title character, Elling, a neurotic mama’s boy who is institutionalized following his mother’s death. At the institution, he rooms with the galumphing gentle giant Kjell Bjarne, played by Brendan Fraser in his Broadway debut. After some time, the men are transferred to a halfway home in Oslo, where they are expected to reenter society — whether they’re ready or not.

Jennifer Coolidge juggles multiple roles in the show — most notably playing the men’s pregnant neighbor, who is the object of Kjell’s affection. Richard Easton appears as a poet who befriends Elling, while Jeremy Shamos plays the social worker who guides the men’s transition from asylum to city life.

Previews began November 2 at the 1,056-seat Barrymore Theatre, where audiences were steady between 62 and 65 percent capacity for the weeks ending November 7 and November 14.

“Elling’s” audience capacity jumped to 78 percent for the most recent week (ending November 21), though box office grosses fell from a second week high of $188,300 down to $145,070. The show’s overall gross for all three weeks is $488,789, according to the Broadway League.

Regular ticket prices range from $51.50 up to $121.50, with the exception of Wednesday matinee tickets ($46.50 up to $116.50) and Saturday performance passes ($66.50 to $126.50). Premium seats are also available for $176.50 (Wednesday matinees), $191.50 (regular performances), and $226.50 (Saturday shows).

“Elling” runs approximately two hours, with a 15-minute intermission. Evening performances are staged Tuesday at 7 p.m., and Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. Matinees are scheduled Wednesday and Saturday at 2 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Ethel Barrymore Theatre is located at 243 West 47th Street in New York, NY. “Elling” ends its Broadway run March 20, 2011. More scheduling and ticketing details can be found on the production’s official Web site.

Opening Night: “Elling”

Publication Critic Review
Variety Marilyn Stasio “A hard sell for Broadway.”
New York Times Charles Isherwood “Fitfully funny, thanks primarily to the energetic efforts of Mr. O’Hare, but mostly just a puzzling fizzle.”
USA Today Elysa Gardner “Gently poignant and transcendently goofy.”
TheaterMania David Finkle “It’s [O’Hare and Fraser’s] talents that often redeem a script that too often devolves into a second-rate on-stage buddy flick.”
The Wall Street Journal Terry Teachout “Relentlessly sentimental and comprehensively unfunny.”
New York Daily News Joe Dziemianowicz “In her few moments onstage, Coolidge shows how effortless comedy can be.”