RIALTO CHATTER: The 'Horse Race' That Wasn't - Recasting EQUUS
EQUUS concluded its 22-week engagement as scheduled on Broadway on February 8th, 2009. The play opened in September 2008 at the Broadhurst Theatre, marking the Broadway debut of Daniel Radcliffe. Mr. Radcliffe starred in the revival of Peter Shaffer's play opposite Tony Award winner Richard Griffiths ("The History Boys").
The big question on the Rialto was always "who'll replace Daniel on Broadway?"
In the UK, Radcliffe's EQUUS replacement was Alfie Allen - brother of pop star Lily Allen, but here in the US many names were bandied about including "Twilight" star Robert Pattinson. That bit of casting never came about so the production closed as scheduled.
Variety has an interesting article regarding the hoped for recasting of the dramatic hit and how, in the end, the choice was made to "go out on top". To read it click here.
It wasn't the most preposterous of ideas according to EQUUS producer David Pugh -- Pattinson appeared alongside Daniel Radcliffe in two of the "Harry Potter" movies. But Pugh told Variety that did not happen. He has, however, confirmed that he and Pattinson will be working together on a theater project in 2010. He gave no more comment on that subject to the industry trade daily.
EQUUS always was ripe for casting rumors regarding the leading role of Alan Strang, a troubled youth who sets in motion the plays tragic events. The role is a feast for any actor and attracted the brightest names of young Hollywood. The role also involves full frontal nudity, which would of made whoever did claim the role truly face the the audience in more ways than one.
The UK Sun reported last October that actor Zac Efron was considering the role of Alan Strang in EQUUS. At the London premiere of High School Musical 3 Efron was quoted as saying, "You know that Daniel Radcliffe role on Broadway? Well it's been mentioned." That news sent his young fans (and older admirers) swooning with the potential of seeing him in the flesh front row center!
Alas, that casting did not come to be, but the rumors kept up for months regarding his replacing Radcliffe on Broadway. The West End production shuttered not long after Allen took over from Radcliffe, but the rumors were even more outrageous over there, such names as former Kate Moss main squeeze and Babyshambles singer Pete Doherty, original film BILLY ELLIOT Jamie Bell and fashion model Chad White made the list of possible Strang replacements. In truth the White rumor was more a silly "what if" as the simply model posed for a provocative EQUUS themed pictorial in OUT magazine and had no real desire to act on the UK stage.
In the end the decision was made to complete the London run without running it into the ground, which is why the choice was made to not continue the production on Broadway.
"Quit While You're Ahead" is how the saying goes, and in the chilly theatrical climate on the Great White Way there was no better way to end the "horse race" of recasting EQUUS...we won't even go into the rumor of Robin Williams replacing Richard Griffiths, promise!
Thea Sharrock directed the production, which marked EQUUS' first time on Broadway since its debuted and won the Tony Award for Best Play 35 years ago.
Daniel Radcliffe is the internationally-renowned star of the "Harry Potter" films and will shortly begin shooting the final "Harry Potter" movie now that he has concluded his Broadway run in EQUUS, in which he made his much-heralded Broadway debut, followed by considerable acclaim.
EQUUS is Peter Shaffer's play about a mild-mannered young stable boy (Radcliffe) who blinds six horses in his care, and what happens when a court-appointed psychiatrist (Griffiths) attempts to unravel the mystery behind the boys demonic act.
The cast of EQUUS also featured Kate Mulgrew, Anna Camp, Carolyn McCormick, Lorenzo Pisoni, T. Ryder Smith, Graeme Malcolm, Sandra Shipley, Collin Baja, Tyrone Jackson, Spencer Liff, Adesola Osakalumi, and Marc Spaulding.
EQUUS was produced on Broadway by The Shubert Organization, Elizabeth Ireland McCann, Roger Berlind, John Gore, Hirschfeld Productions, Bill Kenwright, Emily Fisher Landau, Arielle Tepper Madover, Peter May, Chase Mishkin, and Spring Sirkin.
For more information on the UK tour of EQUUS visit, www.equustheplay.com.
Photo of Daniel Radcliffe by Walter McBride
Photo montage of Alfie Allen by Immo Klink
Rolling Stone cover image of Zac Efron by Matthew Rolston
Peter Doherty image by PopUK
Jamie Bell image by Starstack
Chad White photo by Francois Rousseau for OUT