Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren Star in 

A New Adaptation of August Strindberg's Play by Richard Greenberg
Premieres on Broadway this October

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Dance of Death FAQ

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, 25 September 2001
Contact: John Barlow / Bill Coyle/ Joe Perrotta
(212) 398-1800










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The Shubert Organization, Roger Berlind, Chase Mishkin, and USA Ostar Theatricals, are pleased to announce the limited-engagement Broadway run of DANCE OF DEATH, a new adaptation of August Strindberg’s play by Richard Greenberg (Three Days of Rain, Eastern Standard) starring Tony Award winner Ian McKellen (Amadeus) and Tony Award nominee Helen Mirren (A Month in the Country, TV’s “Prime Suspect”). Directed by Sean Mathias (Indiscretions), DANCE OF DEATH marks the first time that Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren have appeared on Broadway since 1994 and 1995, respectively.  The cast of DANCE OF DEATH also features David Strathairn, Anne Pitoniak, Keira Naughton and Eric Martin Brown.

 DANCE OF DEATH will begin its limited 17-week engagement at The Broadhurst Theatre (235 West 44th Street) on Tuesday, September 18th, 2001. The Opening Night is Thursday, October 11th, 2001. The final performance will be Sunday, January 13th, 2002.

Tickets for DANCE OF DEATH are scaled at $ 51.25 – 71.25.  Tickets will be available beginning Sunday, August 12, 2001 through Tele-charge at (212) 239-6200, or at The Broadhurst Theatre box office (235 West 44th Street) beginning August 13, 2001.  The playing schedule for DANCE OF DEATH will be Tuesday – Saturday at 8:00 p.m., Wednesday & Saturday at 2:00 p.m., and Sunday at 3:00 p.m.

A couple, Edgar, a military captain, and his wife, Alice, a former actress, are preparing to celebrate their silver anniversary . . . 25 years of living together in a place they have nicknamed “Little Hell.” Inevitably bound together yet yearning for escape, the two spend their empty days amusing themselves by matching wits, their verbal jousts spinning a web of twisted emotion. A visitor from their past suddenly re-enters their lives . . . will he offer them freedom from their empty lives or fall victim to their wicked games?

DANCE OF DEATH was previously staged in New York by the New York Shakespeare Festival in 1974 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater; a production adapted and directed by A.J. Antoon, starring Robert Shaw, Zoe Caldwell and Hector Elizondo.  Prior to that, in 1971, there was a production at the Ritz Theatre (now the Walter Kerr) adapted by Paul Avila Mayer, directed by Alfred Ryder, and starring Rip Torn, Viveca Lindfors and Michael Strong.  In 1969, the Roundabout Theatre presented a production adapted and directed by Gene Feist, starring Sterling Jensen, Anna Reiser and Brian Hartigan.

DANCE OF DEATH will have set and costume design by Santo Loquasto, lighting design by Natasha Katz, and sound design and original music by Dan Moses Schreier.


IAN McKELLEN (Edgar).  Sir Ian McKellen is the most acclaimed theatre actor of his generation, honored with more than thirty international awards for his performances on stage and latterly on screen.  He won the Tony Award for the role of Salieri in Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus (1981); the Emmy as best supporting actor in HBO’s “Rasputin” (1996); he was European Actor of the Year for his screen Richard III (1996) and was nominated for an Academy Award as James Whale in Gods and Monsters (1999). 

He celebrates his 40th anniversary as an actor (to the month) with his return to Broadway in DANCE OF DEATH.  On December 19th, on 10,000 screens worldwide, he appears as the wizard Gandalf the Grey in The Fellowship of the Ring, the long expected first installment of the Tolkien trilogy “Lord of the Rings.”  After DANCE OF DEATH he reverts to Magneto, the Master of Magnetism, in the sequel to last summer’s blockbuster X-Men. 

McKellen was born in the industrial north of England on May 25, 1939, the son of a civil engineer.  He first acted at school and at Cambridge University, where he studied English Literature, and appeared in 21 undergraduate productions.  Without any formal dramatic training, he made his dramatic debut in 1961 at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry and for three seasons worked his apprenticeship with other regional companies, culminating with the opening of the Nottingham Playhouse (1963), where he was directed by his childhood hero, director Tyrone Guthrie.

His first London appearance in A Scent of Flowers (1964) led to an invitation from Laurence Olivier to join his new National Theatre Company at the Old Vic Theatre. Then followed two seasons with the touring Prospect Theatre, storming the 1969 Edinburgh Festival as Shakespeare’s Richard II and Marlowe’s Edward II. These alternated for two sell-out seasons in London and were televised. His Hamlet followed and established McKellen as “the leading classical actor of his generation.”

Although he has played in long runs in the commercial West End Theatre, his most noted work has been in the classics with companies that are publicly subsidized to work in repertoire.  He co-founded the democratically run Actors’ Company which visited the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1974.  His work with the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon and in London (1974-78) included plays by Brecht, Chekhov, Ibsen, Marlowe, Shaw, Stoppard and Wedekind.  For Trevor Nunn he played Romeo (with Francesca Annis), Macbeth (with Judi Dench), Leontes, Toby Belch, Face and Iago (with Willard White).  He produced the RSC’s first small-scale tour of the UK (1978). 

At the Royal National Theatre, his hits include Napoli Milonaria, Coriolanus, Wild Honey (also briefly on Broadway in 1986), Peter Pan and Enemy of the People (which played the Ahmanson Theatre’s 1998 season in Los Angeles).   With the McKellen/Petherbridge Group at the NT, he produced and acted, playing the Chicago International Theatre Festival (1986).  As Richard III, he toured the world from Tokyo to Los Angeles (1990-92).  His most recent stage performances were The Seagull, Present Laughter, and The Tempest for Jude Kelly’s company at The West Yorkshire Playhouse (1998).

McKellen’s US debut was in the short-lived and inaptly-titled The Promise (1967) on Broadway with Eileen Atkins and Ian McShane.  He has acted at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with the Actors’ Company and the National Theatre.  During its world tour, his solo show Acting Shakespeare played twice in San Francisco and Los Angeles after the Broadway season and garnered a Drama Desk Award (1994).  DANCE OF DEATH, twenty years on, brings him back to the Broadhurst Theatre, where he played Salieri in Shaffer’s hit Amadeus.

His first starring role on television was as “David Copperfield” (BBC, 1966).  He played Lawrence of Arabia in BBC-TV’s “Ross,” Hitler in ITV’s “Countdown to War,” Amos Starkadder in Schlesinger’s “Cold Comfort Farm” with Kate Beckinsale, and a mentally-handicapped man in the first Film on Four, Stephen Frears’ “Walter” with Sarah Miles (1982).  Also seen on US television were “Edward II,” Hedda Gabler,” “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” the thriller “Dying Day” and the documentary “Diary of a Year” (1985).  McKellen won the Peabody Award for his 1984 broadcast “On Shakespeare’s Birthday,” a Cable Ace Award and an Emmy nomination for “And the Band Played On” (1993) and an Audie (1996) for his recording of Robert Fagle’s new version of the “Odyssey.”

His first film role in 1968 was with Sandy Dennis in Thank You All Very Much, since then he has made 25 movies.  He was seen as D.H. Lawrence in Priest of Love (1981).  On screen he has supported Robert Downey Jr., Nick Nolte, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Meryl Streep.  His Richard III – which he co-produced and co-scripted – was shot on location in London in 1996.  Four years later, McKellen won the Los Angeles Film Critics’ Association Award, The National Board of Review, a Golden Globe nomination and an Academy Award nomination, all for Best Actor, for his performance as film director James Whale in Bill Condon’s Gods and Monsters, with Brendan Fraser and Lynn Redgrave.  For Bryan Singer he has starred in Apt Pupil and X-Men.

His position as an openly gay advocate for social change has coincided with his career: He was the original Max in Sherman’s Bent and for the 1994 Gay Games in New York City, he devised and performed on Broadway his autobiographical anthology A Knight Out at the Lyceum.  Raising funds for local youth/gay/AIDS charities, this solo show has since been to South Africa, up and down the UK and across the US, most recently as A Knight Out in Los Angeles (1997).  Since coming out, Sir Ian has been knighted, taught at Oxford University, professionally made love to Joanna Whalley (Scandal), and been married to Greta Scacchi (Rasputin) and Eileen Atkins twice (in Jack and Sarah and “Cold Comfort Farm”).  He addressed a million people at the 1994 March on Washington and continues as a member and volunteer for Stonewall UK which he co-founded in 1988 to lobby for gay/lesbian equality.  He devises the annual Equality Show at the Royal Albert Hall.

HELEN MIRREN (Alice) received a Tony Award nomination for her role as Natalya Petrovna in the Roundabout Theatre Company production of A Month in the Country (a role she also played on the West End).  Her first theatre experience was with the National Youth Theatre, culminating in her playing Cleopatra at the Old Vic.  As a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, she has portrayed most of the classic theatrical roles, including Ophelia, Cressida, Lady Macbeth, Nina in The Seagull, and the title role in August Strindberg’s Miss Julie.  Ms. Mirren also spent one year with Peter Brook’s Internationale Center de Recherches Theatre.  Her theatre credits also include Teeth ‘n’ Smiles (Royal Court, Wyndham’s and US Tour), The Bed Before Yesterday (Lyric), Measure For Measure (Riverside), The Duchess of Malfi (Manchester Royal Exchange/The Roundhouse), The Faith Healer (Royal Court), Antony and Cleopatra (at RSC and Royal National Theatre), Extremities (West End), Two Way Mirror, Sex Please We’re Italian (Young Vic), Collected Stories (Theatre Royal, Haymarket), and Orpheus Descending (opposite Stuart Townsend at Donmar Warehouse). 

Her numerous television credits include the role of Inspector Jane Tennison in the “Prime Suspect” television series (Emmy Award, Golden Globe Award, and three British Academy of Film and Television Awards for Best Actress), “Losing Chase” for Showtime (Golden Globe Award), “The Passion of Ayn Rand” (Emmy and Golden Globe Award).   She recently made her directorial debut this year directing a short entitled “Happy Birthday” for Showtimes’s “Directed By” film series.

Ms. Mirren’s films include the upcoming Trudie Styler produced film Greenfingers (Fireworks Pictures – Samuel Goldwyn Films); Last Orders, opposite Michael Caine and Bob Hoskins which premieres at the 26th Toronto Film Festival this fall; and Gosford Park, directed by Robert Altman.  Her other film credits include The Pledge, opposite Jack Nicholson and directed by Sean Penn; Killing Mrs. Tingle; Critical Care; Some Mother’s Son; The Madness of King George (Best Actress Award at Cannes Film Festival, Academy Award nomination); Cal (Best Actress Award at Cannes); The Mosquito Coast, opposite Harrison Ford; Excalibur; The Comfort of Strangers; The Long Good Friday, opposite Bob Hoskins; White Nights; Pascali’s Island and Peter Greenaway’s controversial The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover.

DAVID STRATHAIRN (Kurt). Mr. Strathairn’s New York stage credits include Stranger (Vineyard); Ashes to Ashes, Three Sisters (Roundabout); Hapgood (Lincoln Center); A Lie of the Mind (Promenade); Temptation, Salonika; Fen (Public); Blue Plate Special (MTC). Regionally, he appeared in The Tempest (ACT in San Francisco); A Doll's House (Hartford Stage); Danton's Death (Center Stage, Baltimore); The Seagull (Kennedy Center); A Moon for the Misbegotten (Yale Rep); L'atelier (Long Wharf) and Dark Rapture (NY Stage and Film Powerhouse Theatre at Vassar College).  His numerous film/TV credits include John Sayles' Matewan, Eight Men Out, Passion Fish and City of Hope; L.A. Confidential; Mother Night; Lost in Yonkers; The River Wild; Dolores Claiborne; Losing Isaiah; Sneakers; “Beyond the Call” (Showtime); “Days and Nights of Molly Dodd” (Lifetime); “O Pioneers” (Hallmark) and “In the Gloaming” (HBO).

ANNE PITONIAK (Maja). Broadway: 'Night Mother (Tony Award nomination), Picnic (Tony Award nomination), The Octette Bridge Club, Amy's View, and Uncle Vanya. Off-Broadway: Steel Magnolias, Pygmalion (Obie Award), Talking With, The Batting Cage, The Rose Quartet and The Last of the Thorntons. Regional theatre includes roles at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Hartford Stage, Williamstown Theatre Festival, American Repertory Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, etc. Film: Where the Money Is, Agnes of God, The Survivors, Old Gringo, The Opportunists, Unfaithful.   Recent TV work include guest appearances on “E.R.,” “Becker,” “Third Watch” and “Law & Order SVU.”

KEIRA NAUGHTON (Jenny).  Broadway:  Three Sisters at the Roundabout.  Off-Broadway:  All My Sons (Roundabout), The American Clock (Signature Theatre Co.), Daisy Archer in the premiere of Tesla’s Letters (Ensemble Studio Theatre), Uncle Jack (Worth Street Theatre), Hotel Universe (Blue Light Theatre Co.).  Film:  Blair Witch 2, The Cradle Will Rock, Why Don’t You Dance?, Matt in Love.  Keira is also known as “Mrs. Peterson” of the rock band “The Petersons.”

ERIC MARTIN BROWN (Sentry) makes his Broadway debut with Dance of Death.  He recently performed in the Off-Broadway production of Servicemen, directed by Sean Mathias and produced by Scott Elliot’s The New Group.  His other New York credits include In Vitro (Soho Rep), The Woods (Synapse), Ourselves Alone (HERE), He Saw His Reflection (Theater for the New City).  Regional credits include Richard II (The Shakespeare Theatre D.C.) Julius Caesar (Nebraska Shakespeare Festival), and Richard III (Yale Repertory Theater). 

RICHARD GREENBERG (Adaptation) is the author of Three Days of Rain (L.A. Drama Critics Award; Pulitzer finalist; Olivier, Drama Desk, Hull-Warriner nominations), Night and Her Stars, The Extra Man, The American Plan, Eastern Standard, The Author's Voice, The Maderati, Life Under Water, Safe As Houses, and Hurrah at Last. Mr. Greenberg’s play Everett Beekin will be presented by Lincoln Center Theater this fall.  This spring, his new play, The Dazzle, will receive productions at South Coast Repertory (Costa Mesa, CA), Steppenwolf (Chicago), and the Roundabout (New York).  Mr. Greenberg received the 1985 NY Newsday/Oppenheimer Award, as well as the first PEN/Laura Pels Award for a playwright in mid-career.  He is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama.

SEAN MATHIAS (Director) recently directed Servicemen for The New Group, and has been previously represented on Broadway with Marlene and Indiscretions (seen in London as Les Parents Terribles), which was nominated for nine Tony Awards. His London credits include Wings, Infidelities, Exceptions, Bent (City Limits Award for Revival of the Year), Uncle Vanya (nominated for five Olivier Awards including Best Director and Best Revival), Ghosts, Les Parents Terribles (nominated for seven Olivier Awards, winner of the Evening Standard and Critics Circle Awards for Best Director), Design for Living (Evening Standard and Critics Circle Awards for Best Director), A Little Night Music, Antony and Cleopatra (starring Helen Mirren and Alan Rickman), Suddenly Last Summer and Marlene (nominated for two Olivier awards). His first feature film, Bent won awards all around the world, including the Cannes Film Festival. As a writer his stage plays include Cowardice, Infidelities (Perrier Pick of the Fringe, 1985), A Prayer for Wings (Fringe First Award), Poor Nanny, and Swansea Boys. He adapted David Leavitt's novel “The Lost Language of Cranes” for BBC Television. Screened at the London Film Festival, it also won the Golden Gate Award for Best Television Drama and was nominated for Radio Times’ Best Screenplay. His first novel Manhattan Mourning is published by Brilliance Books. Mr. Mathias will direct the forthcoming production of Company as part of the Sondheim celebration at the Kennedy Center next spring.

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