Although the play had previous small runs in provincial theatres in 1898, its metropolitan première took place on 7 November [O.S. 26 October] 1899 at the Moscow Art Theatre. Constantin Stanislavski played the role of Astrov while Chekhov's future wife Olga Knipper played Yelena. The initial reviews were favourable yet pointed to defects in both the play and the acting. As the staging and the acting improved over successive performances, however, and as "the public understood better its inner meaning and nuances of feeling," the reviews improved. Uncle Vanya became a permanent fixture in the Moscow Art Theatre.
Other actors who have appeared in notable stage productions of Uncle Vanya include Franchot Tone, Cate Blanchett, Jacki Weaver, Antony Sher, Ian McKellen, William Hurt, George C. Scott, Donald Sinden, Derek Jacobi and Trevor Eve. The cast of the celebrated 1963 Laurence Olivier production is discussed below under Film and opera adaptations. The play was also adapted as the new stage-play Dear Uncle by the British playwright Alan Ayckbourn, who reset it in the 1930s Lake District – this adaptation premiered from July to September 2011 at the Stephen Joseph Theatre.
The Reduced Shakespeare Company performed a shortened version of the play on their BBC radio show, which contained only three lines: Are you Uncle Vanya? I am. [Gunshot sounds] Ouch!
Uncle Vanya and Zombies by Anton Chekhov and Markus Wessendorf, a post-apocalyptic stage adaptation of Chekhov's play with the following premise: "After a major zombie outbreak on the island of Oʻahu, a television network has turned Kennedy Theatre into a studio for their new reality show Theatre Masterpieces and Zombies. The major challenge for the contestants on this show is to survive their performance of a classic play while fending off zombies released onto the stage by the popular host. After the success of last month's The Tempest and Zombies, tonight's show will feature a classic example of Russian Realism, Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya (1897)." Uncle Vanya and Zombies premiered in November 2012 at Kennedy Theatre in Honolulu.