The former Saturday Night Live writer and cast member will play John Keating, the dramatic role originated by the late Robin Williams, in a stage adaptation this fall of The Dead Poets Society. Prized off-Broadway nonprofit Classic Stage Company will present Academy Award winner Tom Schulman’s adaptation of his 1989 screenplay in the world premiere, to be staged by newly installed CSC artistic director John Doyle. Performances are slated to begin October 27, with an official opening November 17.
CSC’s jewel-box East Village space and adventurous takes on classics old and new have made it a star-magnet in recent years, as more film and TV actors blur the line between Broadway and off-Broadway productions in choosing material to test their legit chops. The roster at CSC has included Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ethan Hawke, Taylor Schilling, Peter Sarsgaard, Chris Noth, Dianne Wiest, Peter Dinklage, F. Murray Abraham, Sigourney Weaver and Cynthia Nixon.
Set at a tradition-bound all-boys prep school, Dead Poets Society is about Professor Keating (Sudeikis), whose off-beat approach to education includes pushing his students to defy authority and to live passionately. Additional casting will be announced in the coming weeks.
“I’m thrilled that Jason Sudeikis is taking on this iconic role in Dead Poets Society,” Doyle said in the CSC announcement. “I felt it important that we find an actor like Jason who brings a fresh perspective, and all at CSC are delighted that he will be joining us for this unique venture.”
Sudeikis’ upcoming films include the sci-fi thriller Colossal starring opposite Anne Hathaway and Kodachrome with Ed Harris. His television work includes a multi-episode arc on Fox’s hit comedy The Last Man on Earth; multiple episodes of the HBO’s Eastbound & Down and multiple appearances on NBC’s 30 Rock.
Doyle most recently staged the acclaimed Broadway productions of The Color Purple and The Visit. In addition to Dead Poets Society, Schulman wrote the screenplays for What About Bob?; Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and was an executive producer on Indecent Proposal and Me, Myself and Irene.