Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

Production history

Original production

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? opened on Broadway at the Billy Rose Theatre on October 13, 1962. The original cast featured Uta Hagen as Martha, Arthur Hill as George, Melinda Dillon as Honey and George Grizzard as Nick. It was directed by Alan Schneider. Subsequent cast members included Henderson Forsythe, Eileen Fulton, Mercedes McCambridge, and Elaine Stritch.

Because of the unusual length of the play (over three hours), prior to the opening a matinee company was also hired that performed twice a week and featured Kate Reid as Martha, Shepperd Strudwick as George, Avra Petrides as Honey and Bill Berger as Nick.[11] As with the evening company, these matinee performances also sold out.[12]

Original Broadway cast album

In 1963, Columbia Masterworks released a four-LP (long-playing) boxed recording of the original Broadway cast performing the entire play under the direction of Alan Schneider.

The release contained a sixteen-page booklet with photos from the original production, critical essays by Harold Clurman and Walter Kerr, cast and crew biographies, and a short article by Goddard Lieberson on the task of recording the play. The introduction is by Edward Albee, in which he relates, "I cannot conceive of anyone wanting to buy [this] massive album; but...every playwright wants as much permanence for his work as he can get."

The recording was issued in both stereo (DOS 687) and monaural (DOL 287) formats. It was out-of-print for many years, was not released in other formats, and is highly prized among collectors, as a play with such adult themes had never been recorded for the general public before. It was finally re-released in 2014 by Broadway Masterworks.[13]

2004 to 2012 productions

The play was revived on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre, opening on March 12, 2005 in previews and closing on September 4, 2005 after 177 performances and 8 previews. Directed by Anthony Page the cast starred Kathleen Turner as Martha and Bill Irwin as George, with Mireille Enos (Honey) and David Harbour (Nick). Irwin won the 2005 Tony Award for Best Actor for his role.[14] The production transferred to London's West End at the Apollo Theatre with the entire original cast, running from January 31, 2006 to May 13, 2006.[15] In January 2007 the Turner-Irwin production was performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., for a month-long run. On February 6, 2007, the production began a six-week run at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.

The play toured in the US and played in San Francisco at the Golden Gate Theater from April 11 to May 12, 2007.

On December 12, 2010, the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, Illinois began performances of the play featuring Amy Morton as Martha, Tracy Letts (the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of August: Osage County)[16] as George, Carrie Coon and Madison Dirks. The production was directed by Pam MacKinnon, who previously directed the premieres of Albee's Peter and Jerry, and Occupant.

This production opened on Broadway at the Booth Theatre on September 27, 2012[17] (previews) with an opening of October 13, 2012 (which is 50 years after the original Broadway opening). Pam MacKinnon again is the director, with the Steppenwolf Theatre reprising their roles. Tracy Letts won the Tony award for his portrayal of George in this production.[18] Following opening weekend, the production and cast won high praise from New York Times reviewer Charles Isherwood.[19]

Meg Tilly returned to acting in 2011 playing Martha[20] in a production by Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre.[21] The show ran July 5, 2011 – July 17, 2011 in Victoria, B.C.

Dance interpretation

In 1995 and '96 the Canadian One Yellow Rabbit troup mounted an homage in dance to playwright Edward Albee called Permission in the form of an hour long ballet inspired by Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. They performed it in their home city of Calgary, as well as in Toronto, Phoenix, Guadalajara, and Mexico City.[22]

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