Photo Preview: John Douglas Thompson in EMPEROR JONES at SoHo Playhouse
Following its sold-out run, The Irish Repertory Theatre Co. Inc. and Darren Lee Cole Theatricals are set to present The Irish Repertory Theatre's production of Eugene O'Neill's THE EMPEROR JONES – starring John Douglas Thompson as the charismatic Brutus Jones -- Off-Broadway for a strictly limited 7-week engagement, with previews set to begin Tuesday, December 15 prior to an official press opening December 22, at SoHo Playhouse. Ciaran O'Reilly directs.
THE EMPEROR JONES opened at The Irish Repertory Theatre on October 18, playing to critical acclaim. In his enthusiastic New York Times review, Ben Brantley called the production "an inspired revival starring the wondrous John Douglas Thompson." He added, "The Emperor has been returned to glory! I can't think of another show (in what has been a mostly lackluster season) that burns brighter."
THE EMPEROR JONES is the story of Brutus Jones, an African-American man who sets himself up as monarch of a Caribbean island after fleeing the United States following a prison break. The 1920 expressionistic drama is a compelling psychological portrayal of power, fear, and madness as it traces the life of the emperor as he tries to escape the island and the sins of his past.
John Douglas Thompson -- OBIE and Lucille Lortel Award-winning actor of last season's acclaimed revival of OTHELLO - returns as the enigmatic emperor. Joining Mr. Thompson are Peter Cormican, Michael Akil Davis, Jon Deliz, Sameerah Harris, David Heron, and Sinclair Mitchell.
The production includes original design team: set design by Charles Corcoran; costume design by Antonia Ford-Roberts; lighting design by Brian Nason; original music and sound design by Ryan Rumery and Christian Fredrickson; puppet design by Bob Flanagan; and choreography by Brian McNabb.
Last season, John Douglas Thompson thrilled Off-Broadway audiences with his performance as Othello (Theater for a New Audience), winning critical acclaim as well as an OBIE and Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Lead Actor. Mr. Thompson's Broadway credits include CYRANO DE BERGERAC with Kevin Kline and Jennifer Garner, and JULIUS CEASAR, opposite Denzel Washington. Other notable Off-Broadway credits include WOMEN BEWARE WOMEN (Red Bull Theatre), HEDDA GABLER (New York Theatre Workshop), OROONOKO (Theatre for a New Audience), and Classical Theater of Harlem's KING LEAR, for which he received an AUDLECO nomination. He is profiled in the current issue of W Magazine. Mr. Thompson recently received the Joe A. Callaway Award for his title performances in OTHELLO and THE EMPEROR JONES.
Ciaran O'Reilly returns to O'Neill's work after having directed The Irish Rep's acclaimed revival of THE HAIRY APE (Drama Desk, Drama League, & Callaway nominations) in 2006. In past seasons, he has directed THE YEATS PROJECT; THE MASTER BUILDER; PRISONER OF THE CROWN; SIVE; DEFENDER OF THE FAITH; THE FIELD; PHILADELPHIA, HERE I COME! (Drama Desk nomination); and The Irish Rep original THE BELLS OF CHRISTMAS.
Darren Lee Cole (Producer/General Manager) has produced and managed plays for 30 years. Producing: KRAPP, 39 by Michael Laurence; MINDGAME by Anthony Horowitz (SoHo Playhouse); KILLER JOE by Tracy Letts (Vaudeville Theatre, West End, London; Soho Playhouse; The Theatre, Chicago); KILLING REAL ESTATE WOMEN by Gary Bonasorte; HIDING BEHIND COMETS, CHARLATON, O'KEEFE, NOSTALGIA TROPICAL (all NYC); and LATICIA AT L'ESPACE (Paris). Management credits: TANGO APPASSIONATO, directed by Graciella Daniele, THE BIG LOVE, PARTING GESTURES, LIFE IN A MARITAL INSTITUTION, THE AUNTS (all NYC); MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET, LOVE LETTERS, OVER THE TAVERN (all Chicago); and FOR COLORED GIRLS... national tour. Mr. Cole has been the Executive Director of the SoHo Playhouse for the past 4 years where he has produced: PIAF, ROOM SERVICE, JAMAICA FAREWELL, BELLY OF A DRUNKEN PIANO, BUKOWSKI FROM BEYOND and Simon Lovell's STRANGE & UNUSUAL HOBBIES.
Performances of THE EMPEROR JONES run Dec 15-Jan 31 at SoHo Playhouse (15 Vandam Street): Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8pm; plus 3pm matinees on Wednesday, Saturdays and Sundays.
Tickets are $65. For tickets call 212-691-1555 or visit www.sohoplayhouse.com.
Photos by Carol Rosegg