Mint Theater Stages Revival of Jules Romains' DONOGOO, Now thru 7/27
Mint Theater's next production will be Donogoo by Jules Romains featuring Ross Bickell, Mitch Greenberg, George Morfogen, Jay Patterson, Paul Pontrelli, Dave Quay, Douglas Rees, James Riordan, Megan Robinson, Kraig Swartz, Scott Thomas, Brian Thomas Vaughan, and Vladimir Versailles as the sixty-six characters that populate this dark and madly ambitious comedy.
Performances will begin tonight, June 3rd and continue through July 27th. Opening Night is set for Monday June 23rd (7pm) at Mint's home (311 West 43rd Street, just west of 8th Avenue).
Donogoo will feature a vibrant new translation by Gus Kaikkonen, who will also direct. Kaikkonen previously translated and directed Romains' Dr. Knock for the Mint in 2010, of which The Wall Street Journal wrote "Gus Kaikkonen has polished the script (which is being performed in his own idiomatic translation) until it gleams like a dueling saber." And The New York Times agreed, saying "Gus Kaikkonen stages his witty translation with a finely tuned rhythm."
Donogoo will have scenic design Roger Hanna, costume design by Sam Fleming, lighting design by Price Johnston, original music & sound design by Jane Shaw, properties design by Joshua Yocum, and projection design Roger Hanna & Price Johnston.
Lamendin is a desperate man suffering from an existential crisis. Le Trouhadec is a professor of geography who longs for election to the Academy of Sciences. Together they unwittingly set in motion a stock market swindle of global proportions. Investors, pioneers and prospectors alike are driven to seek their fortune in Donogoo, a place that doesn't exist-or does it?
Donogoo was originally published in 1920 as a novel in the form of a mock film scenario. It wasn't until the opening of the Théâtre Pigalle in Paris that re-fashioning Donogoo into a play was even deemed possible by Romains. Opened in 1929, the Pigalle was billed as the most modern theatre in the world, employing the latest developments in theatrical design and backstage machinery. Though impressive, the Pigalle faced an uncertain fate in its first year of operation as it was unable to find a production suited to its mammoth technological capabilities. Finally, Romains' cinematic tale - which swings wildly from a scene atop the Moselle Bridge, to an office, to the wilds of South America - could be fashioned into a play script.
Donogoo opened in October of 1930 and was so successful it saved the Théâtre Pigalle from ruin. Le Figaro called the play "a complete triumph; filled with very amusing burlesque, an atmosphere of adventure, and written with all the skill and vitality that one expects from the author of Knock." Yet, the play remains all but unknown in the English-speaking world; it has been performed only once in this country, in 1961 at the Greenwich Mews Theatre in New York, directed by Adrian Hall. "A spoof of scientific accuracy, high finance, trade, patriotism, pioneering, and a host of momentous and minute matters," wrote the New York Times, calling the play "sharp and amusing."
"The play is constructed with a perfect precision... by one of the greatest and most comically skillful of our contemporary writers. Romains, with the most delicate care, creates scenes of fine comedy that grip the audience's attention." - La Revue hebdomadaire, 1930.
Jules Romains (1885-1972) was born Louis-Henri-Jean Farigoule on August 26, 1885. He spent most of his childhood in Paris, where his father was a teacher. In 1902, he published his first poem in La Revue jeune. He published under the pen name he would use the rest of his life - Jules Romains - chosen because it was easy to pronounce, memorable, and expressed his love of Rome. Romains continued to write and publish poetry, but he also furthered his education. After graduation, he taught philosophy full-time while continuing to write poems and prose. Romains first success as a playwright came in 1923 with Monsieur Le Trouhadec sai-si par la débauche, about a naïve yet cunning professor. It was directed by visionary actor/director/designer Louis Jouvet. (The character of Professor Le Trouhadec is central to the story of Donogoo.) Romains surpassed the success of Trouhadec with another comedy the same year, Knock, or Le Triomphe de la médicine, directed by Louis Jouvet, who played the title role. The play was a sensation. Dr. Knock has been revived six times between 1924 and 1933, and seven more times between 1935 and 1949.
"The Mint does for forgotten drama what the Encores! series does for musicals, on far more modest means" (The New York Times). The Mint was awarded an OBIE for "combining the excitement of discovery with the richness of tradition," and a special Drama Desk Award for "unearthing, presenting and preserving forgotten plays of merit." Ben Brantley, in The New York Times Arts & Leisure hailed the Mint as the "resurrectionist extraordinaire of forgotten plays."
Performances will be Tuesday through Thursday at 7 PM, Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 2 PM & 8 PM, and Sunday at 2 PM. Special added Wednesday Matinees on June 18th and July 9th at 2pm. PLEASE NOTE: There will be no performances on Tuesday evenings June 17th, June 24th, July 8th.
Tickets are $55 with some half-price tickets (CheapTix) and Premium Seats ($65) available for most performances. Performances take place on the Third Floor of 311 West 43rd Street.