George Bernard Shaw Play Revived in Manhattan Theatre Club Production
On April 3, 2018, Saint Joan began preview performances on Broadway at the Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. The show is scheduled to have its official opening night on April 25, 2018, and the currently scheduled closing date is June 10, 2018. The play is written by George Bernard Shaw, who is known, at his insistence, simply as Bernard Shaw, even while the average person today may remember him better by his longer name. This production, directed by Daniel Sullivan, marks the eighth time this play has been seen on Broadway, beginning with its premiere in 1923 to 1924, starring Winifred Lenihan as Saint Joan, the 15th century French military figure also known as Joan of Arc (or Jeanne D’Arc). When the show premiered, Joan had been canonized by the Roman Catholic Church only three years prior, and this play was Shaw’s effort to accurately dramatize the events of her life and trial, based off of substantial records. The play is known as Shaw’s only tragedy, among the more than 60 plays that he wrote. Shaw’s other many great works include Man and Superman, Pygmalion (upon which My Fair Lady is based), Mrs. Warren’s Profession, Heartbreak House, Major Barbara, Candida, Getting Married, The Devil’s Disciple, You Can Never Tell, Arms and the Man, and Caesar and Cleopatra. This production is directed by Daniel Sullivan, whose many other Broadway directorial credits include The Little Foxes, Sylvia, The Country House, The Snow Geese, Orphans, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Columnist, and John Lithgow: Stories by Heart.
Following the 1923 Broadway premiere starring Winifred Lenihan, the London premiere in 1924 starred Sybil Thorndike, whom Shaw had in mind when writing the play. The next Broadway production took place in 1936, starring Katharine Cornell as Saint Joan, followed by a revival in 1951, starring Uta Hagen. Next, the show was revived on Broadway in 1956, starring Siobhán McKenna, who also followed that production to London. The following Broadway revival took place in 1968, starring Diana Sands, followed by a Broadway revival in 1977, starring Lynn Redgrave. The last Broadway production prior to the current one took place in 1993, starring Maryann Plunkett as Joan. 25 years later, the show is seeing the Broadway stage again, starring Condola Rashad. Rashad, despite her youth, has already been on Broadway several times. Her debut was in 2011 in the play Stick Fly, and then in 2013, she appeared on Broadway in The Trip to Bountiful. In 2013, she starred as Juliet in a production of Romeo and Juliet, and just last year, she played Emmy in the play A Doll’s House, Part 2.
Rashad now returns to Broadway to star in Saint Joan, alongside a cast that also includes Walter Bobbie as the Bishop of Beauvais (best known as the director of such shows as Bright Star, Venus in Fur, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, High Fidelity, and Sweet Charity. The last time Bobbie was on the Broadway stage as an actor was in the 1992 production of Guys and Dolls as Nicely-Nicely Johnson. The cast of Saint Joan furthermore includes Adam Chanler-Berat (Amélie, Peter and the Starcatcher) as The Dauphin and Charles VII, Jack Davenport (making his Broadway debut) as the Earl of Warwick, John Glover (The Cherry Orchard, Macbeth, Death of a Salesman) as the Archbishop of Rheims, Patrick Page (An Act of God, Spring Awakening) as Robert de Baudricourt and the Inquisitor, Daniel Sunjata (The Country House, Macbeth) as Dunois, Maurice Jones (The Cherry Orchard) as a Page to Dunois, Russell G. Jones (making his Broadway debut) as Monseigneur de la Trémouille, Mandi Masden (Jitney) as Duchess de la Trémouille, Max Gordon Moore (Indecent, Relatively Speaking) as Gilles de Rais and Bluebeard, along with a sizeable ensemble.
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