March 31 served as opening night for the Richard Rodgers Theatre’s latest offering, “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo.” Directed by Moisés Kaufman (“The Laramie Project”), the limited engagement plays on Broadway through July 3.

“Bengal Tiger” is an original dark comedy by Rajiv Joseph and arrives on the Main Stem by way of Los Angeles. Centered shortly after the 2003 American invasion of Iraq, the production focuses on two U.S. Marines, Kev (Brad Fleischer) and Tom (Glenn Davis), stationed by the cage of the titular Bengal tiger (Robin Williams) at the Baghdad Zoo.

When Tom’s hand ends up in the clutched of the tiger’s jaws during a feeding, Kev retaliates by shooting the animal with a gold pistol that Tom looted from the Hussein family palace. The tiger’s ghost is left to prowl the streets of Baghdad and ponder questions of God, instinct and violence. Meanwhile, Kev’s mental state quickly unravels as he feels the ghost-tiger’s presence and hears its voice from beyond the grave.

Arian Moayed plays the military’s translator, Musa, a former topiary gardener at the palace with some literal ghosts of his own — his former employer, Uday Hussein (Hrach Titizian); and his slaughtered sister, Hadia (Sheila Vand). The ensemble cast is rounded out by Necar Zadegan, in the role of a leper whose condition is degrading.

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“Bengal Tiger” began previews March 11 at the 1,356-seat playhouse, where audiences have averaged 77 percent capacity over the past three weeks. Regular tickets are priced from $65 to $125 (before fees), and premium seats are priced up to $300 on The total gross so far has been $1,603,725, according to the Broadway League.

The dark comedy runs two hours and includes a 15-minute intermission. Evening performances are staged Tuesday at 7 p.m. and Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. Matinees play Wednesday and Saturday at 2 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Richard Rogers Theatre is located at 226 West 46th Street in New York, NY. Ticketing and scheduling details for “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” are available on the production’s official Web site.

Opening Night: “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo”

Publication Critic Review
New York Times Charles Isherwood “…smart, savagely funny and visionary…”
TheaterMania Dan Bacalzo “Moayed skillfully brings to life his character’s feelings of anger, regret, frustration, grief, and tenderness.”
Hollywood Reporter David Rooney “Moisés Kaufman directs this beguiling play with quicksilver shifts in tone to match the volatile, questioning nature of Joseph’s writing.”
The Wall Street Journal Terry Teachout “Mr. Titizian…steals the show.”
Los Angeles Times Charles McNulty “Williams is in complete sync with the blasted tragicomic vision of the playwright, whose ample humor is far too sneaky for stand-up showboating.”
New York Daily News Joe Dziemianowicz “Williams is restrained, focused and bitingly amusing…”

Last Updated on April 2, 2011