The Play Moves Up to Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theatre
On March 23, 2017, Oslo began previews at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre, which is the largest, Broadway-size house in the Lincoln Center campus in the west 60s, just north of the principal Broadway district. The play had its premiere this past summer at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi Newhouse Theatre, which is the Off-Broadway house right next door in the same complex. As it received strong reviews, this three-hour political drama is now back to delight even larger audiences through the spring on through an open-ended run. Oslo is the latest play by J.T. Rogers, the celebrated playwright whose Blood and Gifts had its U.S. premiere at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi Newhouse in 2011, following its world premiere at London’s National Theatre Lyttleton in 2010. The actor Jefferson Mays appeared in Blood and Gifts, and earned a Lucille Lortel and an Outer Critics Circle nomination for his performance. Mays returns to Oslo to play the role of Terje Rød-Larsen. Other parts are played by Michael Aronov (Golden Boy), Anthony Azizi (Broadway debut), Adam Dannheisser (Fiddler on the Roof), Jennifer Ehle (The Coast of Utopia), and Daniel Jenkins (Golden Boy), Christopher McHale (Macbeth), Daniel Oreskes (The Miracle Worker), Angela Pierce (The Norman Conquests), Henny Russell (The Audience), Joseph Siravo (The Light in the Piazza), and T. Ryder Smith (War Horse).
When Oslo played the Mitzi Newhouse, Ben Brantley from the New York Times called it an astonishingly lucid account of a byzantine chapter in American politics. Specifically, he is referring to 1993, when the play takes place. The show deals with the unusual backstory of the Oslo Peace Accords. In fact, the production itself has an interesting backstory, which is that during the production of J.T. Rogers’ Blood and Gifts, the director Bartlett Sher introduced Rogers to a Norwegian diplomat, who sparked the idea that led to Oslo. In this incisive drama, Jefferson Mays and Jennifer Ehle play two Norwegian tacticians who manage to get representatives from both Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in the room at the same time, in order to make way for meaningful dialogue about the ongoing contentious issue of Middle Eastern relations. Spitfire dialogue ensues, as these conflicting forces go head to head to air their grievances, and through three long but thrilling acts, the drama unfolds enough for these parties to actually listen to each other. Daniel Oreskes plays Shimon Peres, representing Israel, and Adam Dannheisser plays Yossi Bellin, his right arm man, while Michael Aronov plays Uri Savir, the director general of the foreign ministry. Meanwhile, Anthony Azizi plays the PLO finance minister Ahmed Ourie, the scheming and surprising individual who serves a major role in the suspense drama.
Bartlett Sher Directs J.T. Rogers’ Play
Continuing their collaborative relationship of playwright and director with Blood and Gifts, Bartlett Sher and J.T. Rogers reunite for Oslo, which also came to be under the benefaction of Lincoln Center. Bartlett Sher is one of the most sought after directors working on Broadway today. Equally comfortable with a large-scale musical or an intricate drama, Sher is also set to direct the upcoming revival of My Fair Lady to begin in the spring of 2018. Most recently, he has also helmed last season’s revival of Fiddler on the Roof, the previous year’s revival of The King and I, as well as The Bridges of Madison County, Golden Boy, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, South Pacific, Awake and Sing!, and The Light in the Piazza. Oslo will officially open on April 13, 2017.