More than 30 years later in the first Broadway revival, another duo carrying both critical cachet and star power – Academy Award-nominee Adam Driver and Golden Globe-winner Keri Russell – will bring Wilson’s modern classic back to Times Square, set to begin previews March 15 and open April 16 at the Hudson Theatre.
Fresh off a six-season run in the hit FX series The Americans, and known for the titular role in Felicity, Russell will make her Broadway debut, like Allen did, as Anna, a dancer and aspiring choreographer who has just lost her roommate and creative partner, Robbie, in a mysterious boating accident.
Driver, whose numerous hit films include BlacKkKlansman and the latest Star Wars entries, along with an Emmy-nominated turn on the hit HBO series Girls, last appeared on Broadway opposite Frank Langella in a 2011 revival of Terence Rattigan’s Man and Boy. Here he is cast as Pale, Robbie’s mercurial, intense older brother, a restaurant manager. Pale’s arrival at the downtown New York loft his brother shared with Anna and Larry (played by Brandon Uranowitz) further unsettles matters, particularly for Anna and her screenwriter boyfriend, Burton (played by Tony Award-nominee David Furr).
Driver, who with wife Joanne Tucker regularly brings American plays to military audiences through their nonprofit Arts in the Armed Forces, had been eager in the past couple of years to get back onstage himself. “It was about finding the right one, and the timing being right,” he says. For Russell, last seen on the New York stage in the Off-Broadway premiere of Neil LaBute’s Fat Pig, Burn This presented a golden opportunity — if a slightly intimidating one — after The Americans had wrapped.
“I had just finished doing the show and thought I would take a break for a bit,” Russell says. “And then this came, and it seemed the right combination of interesting and scary, and a chance to be at home in New York instead of traveling to work.” She got encouragement from “my guy,” Americans costar and real-life partner Matthew Rhys: “He does stage readings all the time and loves doing plays. I’m more of a shy person; this is definitely pushing my boundaries, taking a leap…but that’s good.”