As announced by Producer Jeffrey Finn, previews begin tonight, Tuesday, September 29, 2009 for the first ever Broadway production of OLEANNA, the provocative drama by Pulitzer Prize winner David Mamet. Starring Bill Pullman and Julia Stiles and directed by Tony Award winner Doug Hughes (Doubt), the play is a gripping account of a power struggle between a male university professor and one of his female students. The Broadway production has an Opening Night set for Sunday, October 11 at 6:30 PM at The Golden Theatre (252 West 45th Street).
Direct from a smash hit summer engagement in Los Angeles, this new production of OLEANNA was an instant hit with critics and audiences alike, premiering to rave reviews at The Mark Taper Forum.
Tonight also marks the beginning of Take A Side: The Oleanna Talk-Back Series, an on-stage presentation taking place following every preview performance. Featuring a rotating roster of distinguished celebrities from the worlds of media, entertainment, politics, law and education, the series will offer a lively forum for each audience to collectively discuss, debate and comment on the controversial themes of the play with a direct correlation to today's current issues. For tonight's first preview talk-back, the moderator will be Judith Kaye, JD (Juris Doctor from Harvard and President of Judith Kaye Training & Consulting) and panelists will be FOX News Channel legal analyst Lis Wiehl and legal partner Kathleen M. McKenna of Proskauer Rose LLP, who is an expert in litigating employment disputes, including sexual harassment.
The Broadway production is produced by Jeffrey Finn, Arlene Scanlan, Jed Bernstein, Ken Davenport, Carla Emil, Ergo Entertainment, Harbor Entertainment, Elie Hirschfeld, Rachel Hirschfeld, HOP Theatricals, Brian Fenty/Martha H. Jones and Center Theatre Group.
Written in the heyday of political correctness and the culture wars of the early 90s, OLEANNA made an instantly incendiary debut. Regarded today as one of the most provocative dramas of our time, it continues to divide audiences into heated, post-show debate by compelling them to fiercely side with either character. Critics weighing in on this new production confirm that the play hasn't lost any of its bite, power or relevance, noting the intense post-show conversations that continue to erupt nightly.
In The Los Angeles Times, Charles McNulty called this new production "AN 80-MINUTE PRIZE FIGHT! You can't argue with a play that retains the power to get theatergoers arguing with each other as they head home. OLEANNA hasn't lost its power to rile an audience."
In The Hollywood Reporter, Jay Reiner proclaimed it, "DYNAMITE THEATER! Bill Pullman and Julia Stiles are RIVETING together under Doug Hughes' taut direction. Mamet's dialogue flies between the two characters like a shattered pane of glass, each fragment finding its mark and leaving a speck of blood."
In Variety, Bob Verini cheered, "BRILLIANT ACTING and Doug Hughes' canny helming fully animate David Mamet's GALVANIC play. Stiles is SUPERB, achieving increasing majesty with each uppercut. Pullman is a REVELATION. His horrified stagger is ONE OF THE SPELLBINDING EMOTIONAL EXHIBITIONS OF THIS THEATRICAL YEAR."
In The Wall Street Journal, Terry Teachout raved, calling it, "ENTHRALLING! OLEANNA PACKS A KNOCKDOWN PUNCH!"
And Ben Brantley of The New York Times in this season's Fall Preview calls OLEANNA "THE ULTIMATE HE-SAID / SHE-SAID DRAMA!"
Bill Pullman returns to the Broadway stage for the first time since he received a 2002 Drama Desk Award nomination starring opposite Mercedes Ruehl in Edward Albee's Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?. Other recent stage work includes a second Drama Desk nomination for his appearance in Albee's Peter and Jerry in 2007 at Second Stage and the 2006 Kennedy Center production of The Subject Was Roses (Helen Hayes Award nomination). With a major career in stage, film and television, Pullman is perhaps best known for his roles in the films Independence Day, Lost Highway, Sleepless in Seattle, Ruthless People, While You Were Sleeping, The Grudge, Spaceballs, Scary Movie 4, and the recent Bottle Shock, Noble Son and Surveillance.
Julia Stiles earned great acclaim for her performance in a previous production of OLEANNA in London's West End in 2004. Having begun her career in the Theater at a young age in New York City, her additional stage credits include the 2002 Shakespeare in the Park production of Twelfth Night as Viola, James Lapine's Fran's Bed at Playwrights Horizons and The Vagina Monologues. OLEANNA will mark her Broadway debut. She made her cinematic debut at age 15 in I Love You, I Love You Not with Claire Danes. She followed this with many films, most notably, 10 Things I Hate About You, Save the Last Dance, Mona Lisa Smiles, two David Mamet films State and Main and Edmond and the three Bourne movies - The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum.