Long Center Resident Company Austin Shakespeare recently started performances of the play Anthem in New York. Read on to find out about the company’s journey, from Austin Shakespeare Managing Director Alex Alford.
This week marked the opening of Anthem at The Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York. The two weeks of previews went well with enthusiastic audiences. It’s been great seeing Austin faces in the audience: Board members Lisa Jones and Boyce Cabaniss with his partner Tom Welch, Mary Alice Carnes and her husband Rick, and of course, Long Center Executive Director Jamie Grant. For opening night, we saw Nicole Shiro, Madeleine Aubry, Suzanne Breitbach and our lighting designer Jason Amato. Judith Aronson from Dallas is here, along with our New York friends, Liz Barrett, Helen Merino, Gwen Kelso, Mary Dorn, Terry Byrne and Valerie D’Antonio.
Play adapter Jeff Britting has rewritten the script, adding new characters, which make the play’s structure stronger. The New York cast is top-notch. With a substantially larger budget, we have been able to improve the production values of the show. Still, the production retains the same general look and feel of our successful Austin production in 2011, held at the Long Center’s Rollins Studio Theatre. At that production we sold out and added a performance, seeing people from all over the U.S., as well as from Canada and England. Little did we know then our production would get an Off-Broadway monent.
Upon arrival at the Jerome Robbins Theatre, I was struck by the amazing similarities between it and the Rollins. It’s just a bit larger, with more fly and backstage space. Truly, it looks like the same designer had a hand in both stages. Having seen a couple of performances, the show is powerful and gripping. Ann Ciccolella’s direction is strong, yet sensitive, maintaining the integrity of the book while providing an accessible production to audiences.
We are thrilled that those who made the production financially possible, Jim and Kathryn Smith, were here for the opening. We can’t thank them enough for their support and commitment to the project. We got to celebrate with them at our opening night party, a suitably lavish fete after the show at the theatre.
It’s beginning to feel real.
The show runs 8 performances per week through December 1 at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. Visit www.anthemtheplay.com for information on how to get tickets.