UPDATES with more casting news, below: The New Group, an off-Broadway standard bearer, heads into its 20th season in a new home further west on 42nd Street with a lineup that will feature Cynthia Nixon (Sex And The City) in her directing debut and the world premiere of a new play by and starring Jesse Eisenberg (Social Network). The season also includes the return to the stage of Dianne Weist and Holly Hunter.
The company leaves 42nd Street’s Theatre Row to take up residence a block west in the Frank Gehry-designed Pershing Square Signature Center complex, which has in a short time become one of the city’s premiere theater destinations, noted for its $25 ticket policy, live-jazz-accompanied cafe and open space bookstore. The season will kick off in October with a revival of David Rabe’s seminal Vietnam-era drama Sticks And Bones, with Holly Hunter and Bill Pullman playing a black-comedy riff on iconic American TV couple Ozzie and Harriet. Their world is turned inside out when son David returns home from the war. New Group artistic director Scott Elliott will direct. Joseph Papp’s original 1971 production moved to broadway and won the Tony Award for best play of 1972.
Nixon will stage Joel Drake Johnson’s Rasheeda Speaking, with Weist and Tonya Pinkins (Caroline, Or Change) as co-workers in a doctor’s office whose friendship is tested when the boss sets one against the other. Eisenberg — who’s established himself as a performance polymath, acting, writing plays (notably The Revisionist with this company, in which he co-starred with Vanessa Redgrave), and contributing pieces to the New Yorker magazine — returns in the spring of 2015 with The Spoils. In it, he’ll play a grad school exile who, as the current expression would have it, never learned to check his privilege. Elliott will stage this one, too.
Second Stage, another off-Broadway standout, will present Ugly Betty‘s America Ferrera in a fall revival of Terrence McNally’s 1991 July Fourth family feud fest Lips Together, Teeth Apart, about a straight brother and sister, their respective spouses and their holiday weekend in a gay enclave of Fire Island. Peter DuBois (Becky Shaw) will direct the quartet, which includes Tracee Chimo (Bad Jews), Michael Chernus (Captain Phillips) and Austin Lysy (The Water’s Edge). The show is slated to run October 7 through November 23, with an official opening on November 5.
The original production, which began at the Manhattan Theatre Club and moved to a commercial off-Broadway run at the Lucille Lortel Theater, starred Swoosie Kurtz, Christine Baranski, Nathan Lane and Anthony Heald. A 2010 revival under the aegis of the R0undabout Theatre Company was canceled during rehearsals.