Soho Playhouse Closes MADE IN HEAVEN 12/6, Ushers in EMPEROR JONES, 12/15

The New York Times has confirmed that The Soho Playhouse will close MADE IN HEAVEN on Sunday, December 6 to make way for the transfer of EMPEROR JONES by Eugene O'Neil. EMPEROR JONES will begin performances on December 15th.

In a statement to the New York Times, MADE IN HEAVEN producer Barbara Ligeti said, "We agonized over this decision, [but] the Soho Playhouse made us a very favorable offer, and we felt that sparring with them, to the detriment of the Irish Rep's wonderful production, would be counterproductive and mean-spirited."

To read the full article from the New York Times, click here.

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 December 15 prior to an official press opening December 22, at Soho Playhouse (15 Vandam Street). Ciaran O'Reilly directs.

The production opened at The Irish Repertory Theatre on October 18 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." Terry Teachout, in the Wall Street Journal, proclaimed, "I doubt you'll ever see it done better." In the New York Post, Frank Scheck wrote that THE EMPEROR JONES is "one of O'Neill's most haunting, visceral works, and this nightmarish staging does it full justice! The evening's power is the central performance by John Douglas Thompson. Director Ciaran O'Reilly's production brilliantly depicts Jones' journey into the terrors of the jungle which seems to literally come to life thanks to the superbly designed puppets and masks." Time Out NY's Garrett Eisler called the production a "bold revival that executes O'Neill's vision to the hilt." And in the Associated Press, critic Jennifer Farrar, described the work as "spellbinding," adding "tightly directed by Ciaran O'Reilly, the production vividly creates the nightmare world of a man losing his grip on reality. The Emperor Jones is portrayed with vehement bravado."

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.

THE EMPEROR JONES concludes December 6 at The Irish Repertory Theatre (132 West 22nd Street) where the acclaimed theatre company's revival of ERNEST IN LOVE, a musical adaptation of Oscar Wilde's THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNEST, directed by Charlotte Moore, begins previews December 12, prior to its official press opening December 20.

John Douglas Thompson -- OBIE and Lucille Lortel Award-winning actor of last season's acclaimed revival of OTHELLO - returns as the enigmatic emperor. Original cast members Michael Akil Davis, Jon Deliz, Sameerah Harris, David Heron, and Sinclair Mitchell are set for the upcoming run.

Additional cast is to be announced.

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.

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.

Co-founded by Producing Director Ciaran O'Reilly and Artistic Director Charlotte Moore, The Irish Repertory Theatre opened its doors in September 1988 with Sean O'Casey's THE PLOUGH AND THE STARS. The mission of the theatre was and remains to bring works by Irish and Irish-American masters and contemporary playwrights to American audiences; to provide a context for understanding the contemporary Irish American experience; and to encourage the development of new works focusing on the Irish and Irish American experience, as well as a range of other cultures. The Irish Repertory Theatre continues its 22nd Season with ERNEST IN LOVE - a musical adaptation of Oscar Wilde's THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNEST, with previews to begin December 12, prior to its official press opening December 20, directed by Charlotte Moore.

For more information about Irish Repertory Theatre, visit www.irishrep.org.

Performances of THE EMPEROR JONES are set to run December 15, 2009 through January 31, 2010 at Soho Playhouse (15 Vandam Street): Tuesdays-Saturdays at 8pm; plus 3pm matinees on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays (with Christmas and New Year's schedules to be announced). Tickets are $65 and are available by calling 212-691-1555 or online at www.sohoplayhouse.com.

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