Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Mint Theatre Presents WHAT THE PUBLIC WANTS 1/27-3/13

The Drama Desk and OBIE Award-winning Mint Theater Company invites you to Arnold Bennett's comedy, WHAT THE PUBLIC WANTS, beginning January 14th through March 13th at the Mint's home in the heart of the theater district, at 311 West 43rd Street.

Matthew Arbour directs a cast that features Ellen Adair, Mary Baird, Rob Breckenridge, Birgit Huppuch, Laurie Kennedy, Jeremy Lawrence, Douglas Rees, and Marc Vietor. What the Public Wants will have set design by Roger Hanna, costume design by Erin Murphy, lighting design by Marcus Doshi, and sound design by Daniel Kluger.

WHAT THE PUBLIC WANTS is Arnold Bennett's sly satire on tabloid journalism - a lively look at life behind the headlines and proof that the more things change the more they stay the same. This clever 1909 comedy charts the efforts of media mogul Sir Charles Worgan to boost circulation as well as his social standing. "One of the best comedies of our time," wrote Max Beerbohm of the play's London premiere in The Saturday Review. "No one but Bernard Shaw sends up ideas as skyrockets more successfully than Mr. Bennett," wrote the Chicago Evening Post of the play's American debut in 1913.

Bennett's prescient comedy has been revived several times in England; each time the play feels more timely and topical. "The thing that impresses one most about What The Public Wants is its curious up-to-dateness... Indeed, its purpose is all the more urgent now, since the ills of the Press, which the play diagnoses so well, have grown alarmingly, especially in the last few years," wrote The Stage. "The satire is as topical, the wit as keen, and the humor as penetrating." 100 years after it was written, Bennett's savage wit still hits the target.

Loosely inspired by the rise of Lord Northcliffe, founder of Britain's leading tabloid, The Daily Mail, WHAT THE PUBLIC WANTS was first produced by The Stage Society in London in March 1909. "A brilliantly illuminating satire," declared The London Times, and the play was promptly transferred to the West End where it was hailed as "a very amusing and often very witty farce." WHAT THE PUBLIC WANTS proved so popular it was published in three different editions between 1909 and 1911.

WHAT THE PUBLIC WANTS was first seen in the U.S. in 1913, when the Manchester Repertory Company toured Boston and Chicago. The Boston Globe described the play as a "delightfully clever satire, often of scintillating brilliancy, thoroughly interesting and constantly entertaining," while the Chicago Tribune praised Bennett's play as "luminous and watchful, a gem." In 1922, The Theatre Guild produced the New York premiere.

There was a time, in the first quarter of the last century when Arnold Bennett was one of the world's most famous and successful authors. When he was dying, the streets beneath his window were laid with straw to deaden the noise. Bennett was the last person in London to be accorded this honor. When he died on March 27, 1931, it was front-page news in The New York Times. Only 64, he was still "in the full tide of his prodigious literary output, which had brought him more readers and more riches than any other British author." "More riches" turned out to be literally true: The Times later reported that Bennett "disposed of what is expected to rank as the largest literary fortune in history" ($500,000). Tributes came pouring in from all over the world. Today, even his most famous work: TTHE OLD WIVES TALE, CLAYHANGER and THESE TWAIN have been forgotten.

Mint Theater Company, "that truffle hound of half-buried treasures from the past" (Village Voice), has a celebrated reputation for re-discovering worthy but neglected gems and has brought new vitality to timeless but timely plays since 1992. The Mint was awarded an OBIE for "combining the excitement of discovery with the richness of tradition." Mint was awarded a special Drama Desk Award for "Unearthing, presenting and preserving forgotten plays of merit."

All performances will take place on the Third Floor of 311 West 43rd Street. For more information, visit www.minttheater.org

 


Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes, and More from Your Favorite Broadway Stars

Related Articles View More Off-Broadway Stories

More Hot Stories For You