Director David Cromer has revived John Guare’s black comedy “The House of Blue Leaves” for Broadway this season. The mid-’60s tragicomedy opened April 25 at the Walter Kerr Theatre with a star-studded cast led by Ben Stiller, Edie Falco and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
“The House of Blue Leaves” is set in 1965, on the day Pope Paul VI visits New York City to address the United Nations. Middle-aged zookeeper Artie Shaughnessy (Stiller) aspires to be a Hollywood songwriter, but finds himself penned into family life in Sunnyside, Queens, with his schizophrenic wife, Bananas (Falco), and their unhinged son, Ronnie (Christopher Abbott), a recent draftee who has gone AWOL.
With the support of his lover and downstairs neighbor Bunny Flingus (Leigh), Artie decides to consult an old neighborhood pal who made it big in Tinsel Town (Thomas Sadoski). But before the lovers can chase their celebrity dreams, Artie must first receive the Pope’s benediction — and have his wife institutionalized at the titular House of Blue Leaves.
Previews began April 4 at the 941-seat Kerr, with regular ticket prices set from $57 up to $132, and premium seating options ranging from $137 to $277. Since then, attendance has been at or near 100 percent capacity. Weekly grosses have been consistently above $400,000 for a cumulative total of $1,396,628 so far, according to the Broadway League’s numbers.
“The House of Blue Leaves” is performed Monday through Saturday evening at 8 p.m., and Wednesday and Saturday at 2 p.m. The show runs approximately two hours and 15 minutes, including an intermission.
Stiller has a deep connection to “House,” in which his mother (Anne Meara) played Bunny during an Off-Broadway staging in 1971. When a revival of the play landed on Broadway in 1986, Stiller made his own stage debut in the role of Ronnie Shaughnessy.
The Walter Kerr Theatre is located at 219 West 48th Street in New York, NY. “The House of Blue Leaves” is a 14-week limited engagement, scheduled to close July 9. More details are available on the production’s official Web site.
Opening Night: “The House of Blue Leaves”
|Variety||Marilyn Stasio||“It takes some kind of genius to find the humor in a suffering schizophrenic like Bananas… But Falco is that kind of genius.”|
|New York Times||Ben Brantley||“Mr. Cromer’s version plunges headfirst into the blackness, leaving the comedy to sink or swim. Mostly, I’m afraid, it sinks.”|
|TheaterMania||David Finkle||“Edie Falco has the astonishing ability to disappear completely into any role she takes on.”|
|Hollywood Reporter||David Rooney||“Stiller taps into a very real ache, coming alive with manic energy.”|
|The Wall Street Journal||Terry Teachout||“This is tough, tough stuff — but it’s also the best show of the season.”|
|Chicago Tribune||Chris Jones||“The production is precisely detailed and wholly fearless.”|