PHOTO CALL: The Heiress, Starring Jessica Chastain, Opens on Broadway; Red Carpet Arrivals, Curtain Call and Cast Party
By Joseph Marzullo
The new Broadway production of Ruth and Augustus Goetz's period drama The Heiress opened Nov. 1 following previews from Oct. 6 at the Walter Kerr Theatre. Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain ("The Help") plays the awkward Catherine Sloper, with "Downton Abbey" star Dan Stevens as a handsome suitor, Morris Townsend, who arrives on her doorstep. Windows and doors figure prominently in the 1947 drama set in 1850 New York City.
In the durable play about manners, mores, marriage and money, inspired by the 1880 Henry James novel "Washington Square," Oscar nominee and Emmy Award winner David Strathairn ("Good Night and Good Luck," "Temple Grandin") plays Catherine's widower father, Dr. Austin Sloper, with two-time Tony Award winner Judith Ivey (Steaming, Hurlyburly) as romantic-at-the-core Aunt Lavinia Penniman, who advocates for Catherine and Morris' practical (if potentially precarious) bond.
The socially stunted, shy-around-men Catherine — billed by her own father as not "clever" — learns the rules of the world as she is caught between newcomer Morris (whose motives are murky) and her cold father, a prominent medical doctor.
The American classic by Ruth Goetz and Augustus Goetz is directed by Tony Award-nominated playwright and director Moisés Kaufman (I Am My Own Wife, 33 Variations, The Laramie Project). His cast also includes Molly Camp as Marian Almond, Kieran Campion as Arthur Townsend, Virginia Kull as Maria, Dee Nelson as Mrs. Montgomery and Caitlin O'Connell as Aunt Elizabeth Almond.
The Heiress — a limited run to Feb. 10, 2013 — is produced by Paula Wagner, Roy Furman, Stephanie P. McClelland, Luigi Caiola/Rose Caiola, Jim Herbert, Ted Liebowitz, Stacey Mindich, Jill Furman, Ricardo Hornos, Jon B. Platt, Eric Schmidt, Margo Lion/Rachel Weinstein and Jujamcyn Theaters.
Here's how the producers bill The Heiress: "In this timeless New York love story, a protected young woman (Jessica Chastain) finds herself caught between her steely, grief-stricken father (David Strathairn) and a mysterious, handsome suitor (Dan Stevens). The power of passion, loss and money scars their lives in this unforgettable drama."
The design team includes Derek McLane (sets), Albert Wolsky (costumes), David Lander (lighting), Peter Golub (original music) and Leon Rothenberg (sound).
In 1995, Lincoln Center Theater had a major hit with a revival of The Heiress. It won Tony Awards for Best Revival, Best Actress (Cherry Jones), Best Featured Actress in a Play (Frances Sternhagen) and Best Direction of a Play (Gerald Gutierrez). It was the third Broadway revival for the play, and was celebrated for adding depth and psychological heft to a work that could be lazily sold as melodrama.
The property was a famous 1949 Hollywood film starring Olivia de Havilland (who won the Best Actress Oscar for her work) and Montgomery Clift. It was nominated for Best Picture.
Together Ruth Goetz and Augustus Goetz wrote the Broadway plays Franklin Street (1940); One Man Show (1945); The Immoralist (1954), an adaptation from the novel by Andre Gide; and The Hidden River (1957), an adaptation of a novel by Storm Jameson. The Goetzes also collaborated on the films "The Heiress" (Academy Award, 1949), "Sister Carrie" (1950), "Rhapsody," "Trapeze" and "Stagestruck." Ruth Goetz is the sole author of the plays Sweet Love Remembered (1959), written after her husband's death in 1957; and Madly in Love (1963).
Tickets for The Heiress are on sale at Telecharge.com, or by calling (212) 239-6200 and at the box office of the Walter Kerr Theatre (219 W. 48th St.).
Ticket prices range from $50 to $135. Group bookings are being accepted now. Visit telecharge.com/groups or call Telecharge Group Sales at (800) 432-7780.
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