The new Broadway production of the Tony Award winning play The Heiress began previews on October 6th and will open tonight, November 1st at the Walter Kerr Theatre (219 West 48th St.). The show will play a limited run through February 10, 2013.
The Heiress stars Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain, Academy Award nominee and Emmy Award winner David Strathairn, the leading man of "Downton Abbey" Dan Stevens, and Tony Award winner Judith Ivey. Written by Ruth & Augustus Goetz, The Heiress is directed by Tony Award nominated playwright and director Moisés Kaufman.
The design team includes Tony Award winner Derek McLane (sets), Academy Award winner Albert Wolsky (costumes), Tony Award nominee David Lander (lighting), Peter Golub (original music) and Tony Award nominee Leon Rothenberg (sound).
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Ben Brantley, The New York Times: Wearing a mousy brown wig and hunching her shoulders, Ms. Chastain improbably manages to simulate homeliness. And her face registers feelings sharply and legibly. But, curiously for an expert film actress, she is guilty here of oversignaling the thoughts within. She plays Catherine’s spinsterish awkwardness for broad comedy in the early scenes. And her delivery of dialogue sometimes has a flatness that I associate with cold readings of scripts. This is surely a conscious choice, but it has the effect of making Catherine seem even more, uh, mentally challenged than usual. And I never felt the urgency of filial and romantic love festering into vengeful hatred, which should inform any production of “The Heiress.”
Mark Kennedy, Associated Press: The latest revival of "The Heiress" has done the near impossible - it's drained the light from one of the most luminous actresses working today. In a good way. Jessica Chastain, that ravishing redhead with the milky skin who shot a dose of bubbly charm to the film "The Help," turns almost ghoulish in the title role…What's left is a skittish woman with hollow eyes, a simply horrible hostess who, when she speaks, does so in a dull monotone. Even her hair looks mousy. Full credit goes to Chastain, who has buried herself in dullness to play one of theater's more formidable proto-feminist roles. The men in her life - David Strathairn plays her father and Dan Stevens of "Downton Abbey" her suitor - aren't too shabby either, each turning in performances that are complex and sympathetic. Neither actor, under the superb, subtle direction of Moises Kaufman, emerges as a straw man.
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: The gasps of pleasure that accompanied the stage entrance of Dan Stevens in The Heiress on press night indicated a large contingent of Downton Abbey fans in the audience. And the actor is a savvy casting choice in a part that requires beguiling charm and sufficient sincerity to keep us wondering about his character’s motives. But the good news doesn’t extend to the actress in the title role of this plush Broadway revival. An underpowered Jessica Chastain, hampered by questionable directorial choices, dilutes the emotional impact of this nonetheless compelling melodrama...This is juicy, high-toned melodrama, and for the most part, stylishly executed. It’s possible that, as the run progresses, Chastain might find more secure footing, placing a bolder stamp on the central role to capture the spark that’s currently missing.
Elisabeth Vincentelli, NY Post: The play itself takes care of the rest, carrying us along like the well-crafted yarn it is. They don’t write ’em like this anymore.
Thom Geier, Entertainment Weekly: Director Moisés Kaufman's crisp, first-rate production finds an admirable complexity in Ruth and Augustus Goetz' 1947 drama, based on the Henry James novel Washington Square. In her Broadway debut, Chastain conveys social discomfort and awkwardness without veering into caricature. In the second act, as her mouse of a character gradually learns to roar, the uniquely American arc of this tragedy comes into sharper focus.