Julianna Margulies and Paul Rudd Read The Mercy Seat

Julianna Margulies

Julianna Margulies

A special reading of Neil Labute’s play The Mercy Seat, featuring Julianna Margulies (TV’s The Good Wife) and Paul Rudd (recently on Broadway in Grace), will be staged at the Lucille Lortel Theatre on June 17. The reading is part of a benefit event for MCC Theater, which originally produced the play in 2002.

The Mercy Seat was one of the first stage dramas written in response to the 9/11 tragedy. Taking place the day after the terrorist attacks, the play is about a married man who was thought to be among the victims but is actually holed up in his mistress’s apartment. The two must decide whether to go back to life as usual or start anew.

Tickets for the reading of The Mercy Seat are $75, $100, and $250. Visit www.mcctheater.org or call 212-352-3101 for more information.

Broadway’s Grace Offers Special Election Eve Ticket Discounts

For those who are exhausted by the seemingly endless and often heated pre-election discussion, the new Broadway play Grace is offering special “Get Your Brain Off the Campagin” pricing for its election eve performance.  For one night only, on Monday, November 5th at 7pm, Grace will give theatergoers the opportunity to see the show at deeply discounted ticket prices.

In honor of the much-discussed “47%”, you can buy orchestra and mezzanine seats to see this performance of Grace for just $47.  And the balcony seats for the November 5th performance are being sold at the very inexpensive and timely price of $20.12.

The November 5th election eve performance of Grace is a specially scheduled Monday night performance intended to replace the usually scheduled Tuesday performance on Tuesday, November 6th, which is election day.  Grace stars Paul Rudd, Ed Asner, Michael Shannon, and Kate Arrington and plays at the Cort Theatre on Broadway.  To purchase the low-priced tickets for November 5th, or to get tickets for another performance of Grace on Broadway, call 212-239-6200 or visit www.telecharge.com.

Grace Broadway Show Review

Grace

Though Craig Wright’s Grace has already been seen in a few theaters around the country, it is just now making its Broadway debut at the Cort Theatre.  The play has a small but impressive cast, headed by film star Paul Rudd and TV legend Ed Asner (who makes a big impression with a relatively small role), along with indie film and TV actor Michael Shannon and Kate Arrington.  The quartet are uniformly excellent as they explore the relationships of Wright’s complex characters.

The actual plot of Grace may sound a bit off-beat (and it is).  It concerns a couple from Minnesota who leave their evangelical church community in St. Paul and move to Florida with the hopes of establishing a Gospel-themed hotel there.  Their lives become entwined with that of their neighbor, a reclusive astrophysicist who is recovering from a car accident that has disfigured him and left his fiancee dead.  Ed Asner plays a German-born exterminator who periodically comes to spray their homes for pests.

From the opening scene–which, intriguingly, plays out backwards–we see that Grace has serious undertones.  It addresses themes of redemption, predetermination, faith, loyalty, love, and what our place is in this world.  But it’s also very funny and well-observed, and seeing the culture clash between the well-meaning Christian Minnesotans and their new Florida friends is enjoyable.

Each of the four characters seem pretty set in their view of life at the beginning of the play, none more so than Rudd’s, whose initially certain faith sends him into a tailspin as soon as it is challenged by major setbacks in his marriage and work.  But the other characters too have emotional and spiritual experiences–subtly and convincingly rendered by the playwright–that leave them changed before the play’s dramatic conclusion.

Grace is a thought-provoking if brief (the running time is only 90 minutes) evening at the theater, and well worth seeing during its limited engagement, scheduled through January 6.

Special Events Scheduled To Promote New Broadway Play Grace

New Broadway plays, which rarely get the exposure of more splashy, tourist-friendly musicals, can use all the promotional opportunities that they can get.  To get some extra notice, the brand new Broadway play Grace has scheduled notable events for the month of October.

Right on the heels of the extremely high-profile release of the iPhone 5, the cast of Grace will make an appearance at the Apple Store in SoHo on Monday, October 8 from 7-8pm.  Appropriately, the Apple Store has its own small theater, where cast members Paul Rudd, Ed Asner, Michael Shannon, and Kate Arrington will discuss the show with CNN’s Shanon Cook, who will serve as moderator.  Members of the public are welcome to attend the free event, and there will also be a Q&A segment.  (For those who can’t make it, the discussion will be recorded for a future podcast.)

Grace is also launching a talkback series to be held following Wednesday evening performances of the play, beginning with the October 10 performance.  For that talkback, theater journalist Patrick Pacheco will moderate a discussion with the entire cast of the show.  The following talkback, on October 17, will feature Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert and Reverend Stephen Phelps (of NYC’s Riverside Church) in a discussion about the play’s themes of faith and religion.  The October 24 post-show discussion will also focus on issues of faith, as Marble Collegiate Church’s Dr. Michael Brown, who served as a consultant on Grace during rehearsals, will participate in the talkback.

Broadway Stars Join Charity Bowling Event

Broadway goes bowling on October 22, when the non-profit organization Our Time (which works to help children who have stuttering problems) puts on its 1st Annual Bowling Benefit.  The event, which starts at 7pm that evening, will be held at Lucky Strike, a bowling alley conveniently situated near the theater district, at 42nd Street and 12th Avenue.

Actor Paul Rudd, who has just begun previews in the new play Grace on Broadway, will host the benefit.  It will start with a cocktail reception before both bowling and billiards begin.  Celebrity “lane captains” participating in the event include several current, future, and past Broadway performers, among them Lewis Black, Bobby Cannavale, Victor Garber, Gina Gershon, Once‘s Steve Kazee, Richard Kind, Jesse L. Martin, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Denis O’Hare, Anthony Rapp, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Amy Ryan, and several other famous personalities and celebrities from TV, film, and theater.

Tickets to Paul Rudd’s All-Star Bowling Benefit are $275-$1,000, and the event does also include an open bar, dinner, and a special performance.  To get tickets, click here.