The Broadway celebration of South African playwright Athol Fugard’s 80th birthday kicked off last night, January 17, with the opening of “The Road to Mecca.”
Fugard’s 1984 drama focuses on an elderly artist, Miss Helen (Rosemarry Harris), whose story is based on that of the South African Helen Martins. No longer able to care for herself, Miss Helen’s welfare becomes a point of debate between a young friend (Carla Gugina) and a local minister (Jim Dale).
Gordon Edelstein directs the two-act play’s Broadway debut, which is scheduled as a limited engagement at American Airlines Theatre. The Roundabout Theatre Company (RTC) production runs through March 4 only.
The drama entered previews December 16 at the 727-seat playhouse. Weekly attendance rates have been low, averaging just over 60 percent capacity for its five weeks in production. The attendance did rise to a five-week high of 79 percent last week.
For the 34 previews played through last Sunday, January 15, “Mecca” grossed $657,484 total. Regular tickets range in price from $67 to $117.
“The Road to Mecca” runs approximately two hours and 25 minutes, including an intermission. Performances are staged at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday evenings. Matinee curtains are at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
American Airlines Theatre is located at 227 West 42nd Street in New York, NY. More details are available on RTC’s official Web site.
Opening Night: “The Road to Mecca”
|Variety||Marilyn Stasio||“Once all the ponderous exposition is out of the way…[“The Road to Mecca”] finally ignites with the passion of its ideas.”|
|New York Times||Ben Brantley||“Quiet, slow and ultimately powerful.”|
|Hollywood Reporter||David Rooney||“Harris is compelling throughout, bringing a stoicism and alertness that deftly counter the physical evidence of enfeebled old age.”|
|New York Daily News||Joe Dziemianowicz||“Under Gordon Edelstein’s sensitive direction, the starry cast brings out the best of what’s on the page.”|
|New York Post||Elisabeth Vincentelli||“A slow-burning pleasure.”|
|New York Magazine||Scott Brown||“A challenging, elusive play under the best of circumstances, at once diffuse and idiosyncratic, as dramatically cramped as it is structurally gaseous.”|