Atlantic Theater Company has announced the first production of its 2011-2012 season, the U.S. premiere of Simon Stephen's play BLUEBIRD, directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch and starring Olivier Award winner and Tony Award® nominee Simon Russell Beale, Tobias Segal and Atlantic Theater company members Kate Blumberg, Mary McCann, and Todd Weeks.
BLUEBIRD will begin previews Tuesday, August 9, officially open Monday, August 22, and play a limited engagement through Friday, September 9, 2011 off-Broadway at Atlantic Stage 2 (330 West 16 Street).
Additional casting, creative team and schedule information will be announced shortly.
Jimmy MacNeill (Beale) is a London taxi driver who seems to draw personal stories and confessions from his passengers without even trying. Over the course of Simon Stephens' meticulously observed and deeply compassionate play, the truth of Jimmy's own life and secret burdens unfurls with each new "fare." In this acclaimed early play, the first of several he has since had produced at the Royal Court Theatre, Stephens illuminates big questions about how we transcend our own mistakes, and the value and cost of intimacy. He is an unparalleled observer of the small details that unlock joy and pain for the throngs of people anonymously going about their business in the big city.
Acclaimed British playwright Simon Stephens makes his New York and Atlantic debut with the U.S. premiere of Bluebird, which was originally produced at the Royal Court in London. His plays include the Olivier Award winning On the Shore of the Wide World, Herons, Port, One Minute, Christmas and Country Music among many produced throughout the UK. He is the Artistic Associate at the Lyric, Hammersmith in London.
Director Gaye Taylor Upchurch makes her Atlantic Theater Company debut. She recently staged Naomi Iizuka's Language of Angels for Lincoln Center Theater Institute and Patrick Huguenin's Paper Dolls for the New York Fringe Festival, which received an Outstanding Ensemble Award. She is currently working with Sam Mendes on the upcoming Bridge Project production of Richard III starring Kevin Spacey.
Olivier Award winner and Tony Award® nominee Simon Russell Beale returns to the New York stage following starring in the Tony Award® winning musical Spamalot and Tom Stoppard's critically acclaimed play Jumpers. Atlantic founding member Mary McCann recently completed the pilot "Vital Signs," directed by Jonathan Demme. She appeared in the original casts of the world premieres of Ethan Coen's Almost an Evening and Offices and starred in Annie Baker's acclaimed world premiere play Body Awareness at Atlantic. Since appearing in Lincoln Center's When the Rain Stops Falling, company member Kate Blumberg returns to Atlantic, where she also appeared in Almost an Evening and the world premiere of Beau Willimon's Farragut North. Tobias Segal makes his Atlantic stage debut after appearing on Broadway last season in The Miracle Worker. Company member Todd Weeks has recently appeared on the Atlantic stage in David Mamet's Keep your Pantheon and Romance, the world premiere of Lucy Thurber's Scarcity, and the critically acclaimed production of The Voysey Inheritance.
Atlantic's Stage 2 programming and new play development activities are made possible, in part, by the leadership support of Time Warner, Inc.
Stage 2 programs are also supported by the Axe-Houghton Foundation, the Barbara Bell Cumming Foundation, the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, the John Golden Fund, the Lucille Lortel Foundation, the Lila Acheson Wallace Fund for the Arts, and the Shubert Foundation as well as public funds from the New York Department of Cultural Affairs, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts which is celebrating 50 years of building strong, creative communities in New York State's 62 counties.
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SIMON RUSSELL BEALE is an Associate Artist of the RSC and National Theatre. RSC performances include ‘Konstantin' in The Seagull and ‘Ariel' in The Tempest. Numerous productions at the National Theatre include Hamlet, which won him the Evening Standard Best Actor Award, ‘Felix Humble' in Humble Boy (also West End), ‘George' in Jumpers (also West End/Broadway), ‘Benedick' in Much Ado About Nothing, ‘Andrew Undershaft' in Major Barbara and ‘Sir Harcourt Courtly' in London Assurance. ‘Vanya' in Uncle Vanya and ‘Malvolio' in Twelfth Night at the Donmar Warehouse and New York's Brooklyn Academy won him Best Actor at the 2002 Olivier and Evening Standard Awards as well as a Village Voice Obie. Simon also starred in Monty Python's Spamalot in New York and London. In 2009 Simon played ‘Leontes' in "The Winter's Tale" and ‘Lopakhin' in The Cherry Orchard, both directed by Sam Mendes at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, on a European tour, and at the Old Vic. In 2010 Simon starred in the thriller, Death Trap at the Noel Coward Theatre. He played Sir William Collyer in a film version of The Deep Blue Sea directed by Terence Davies, and a cameo role in the film My Week With Marilyn. In 2011 he played The Duchess in the ballet Alice in Wonderland at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Television work includes "A Dance to the Music of Time" for which he won the Royal Television Society Award and a BAFTA for Best Actor, and has filmed two series of "Spooks" for Kudos Productions and for BBC 4 he has presented two series of "Sacred Music" and a series entitled "Symphony." On BBC Radio 4 he has recently played the role of ‘George Smiley' in The Complete Smiley, new adaptations of the books by John Le Carre. He has previously appeared at the BBC Proms in 1996 when he narrated the Stravinsky Promenade, and at the 2003 First Night when he narrated Ivan the Terrible, conducted by Leonard Slatkin. In 2010 he took part in the prom celebrating the 80th birthday of Stephen Sondheim. In 2003 Simon was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to the Arts.