Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

New Play on Balanchine (and others) set for Broadway in May

Recommended Posts

A new play is set to debut n April at the Mitzi Newhouse Theater of Lincoln Center. It deals with the group of Russian emigres working in the U.S. after World War II. The project: a new ballet on the Orpheus legend. At the center of this circle .... George Balanchine.

Nikokai and the Others

It's 1948 and during a spring weekend in Westport, Connecticut a close-knit group of Russian emigres, including choreographer George Balanchine, composer Igor Stravinsky, conductor Serge Koussevitsky, painter/set designer Sergey Sudeikin and composer Nikolai Nabokov, gather to eat, drink and talk.

In Nikolai and the Others playwright Richard Nelson (Some Americans Abroad, Two Shakespearean Actors) imagines the relationships between Balanchine and Stravinsky, their friends, lovers, wives and ex-wives, partners, supporters and dancers (including Maria Tallchief and Nicholas Magallanes), at the time of their historic collaboration on the ballet Orpheus.

David Cromer directs. Michael Cerveris -- who played the title role in Sweeney Todd and John Wilkes Booth in Assassins, on Broadway -- will be Balanchine.

Here's the NY Times piece on the casting. But .... who will be Magallanes and Tallchief?


Link to comment

I found the play fascinating. Michael Cerveris seems physically transformed and does an incredible job of evoking Balanchine without simply mimicking. It will be interesting to see what the critics say (it opens officially in early May) and whether this will resonate with audiences.

Link to comment

I saw the play a week ago and I can understand why it has not opened yet---to all appearances it looks like a work in progress.....Interestingly (? why?) the author sets the play around Sergei Sudeikin who died in 1946--and the play takes place in 1948.....It was fun to see all the SAB characters of the 40's cavorting on stage. There were discussions of whether or not Nikolai Nabokov had talent as a composer--this in the presence of Stravinsky. The critics answered that question a few years later with his score for Balanchine's Don Q. The 2nd Act was a muddle.

To anyone who has read a few books on Balanchine -- the dialogue will be familiar.

Link to comment

Saw it. Granted it's still in previews, but it's very much a work in progress. For me, it never captured the persona portrayed. No one ever came to life. Under written, under directed, under played. Like watching paint dry. From watching this, no one would know these were giants of the last Century. (yawn)

Link to comment

Thanks, Ray. Before I read those reviews I'll mention that I saw this this past weekend, just before the official opening night. As I had previously read about all of this wonderful 'characters,' I very much enjoyed it. I also enjoyed the exploration into the 'Russian Expat Soul' and ways of thinking, which I've experienced through my husband's family and 'fellow expat' acquaintances here in the US. One tiny but important detail that was missing: Where was the samovar - that ultimate symbol of Mother Russia in every expat's dinner table, especially when guests are present?

Michael Cerveris was excellent, IMO...and he got MrB's facial ticks just right! smile.png The fantastic cast also includes Blair Brown, very moving as Vera Stravinsky. I cried at her 'dealing' with her frail ex-husband, the artist Sudeikin. Natalia Alonso is a 'dead ringer' in face & body type for the late-great Maria Tallchief. Ditto the male dancer who portrayed Magallanes. Bravi!

As much as I enjoyed the play because of my own knowledge...I'm wondering if the vast majority of theater-attendees 'got it'?

Link to comment

The play closes this Sunday, June 16. I saw it once while in New York and would strongly recommend that Balanchine lovers see it. It was delightful to see some actual dancing from Orpheus during the play. I also learned a lot about the fears of the Russian emigres post-World War II (that the U.S. government worried that some were really Soviet spies, e.g.) that I was not aware of before.

The theater is very intimate and deeply raked -- there doesn't appear to be a bad seat in the house. I rarely go to live theater, so I'm not a great judge of performances, but was impressed. The playwright claims to aim for historical accuracy as much as possible (with some noted license, e.g., the location where Balanchine first showed Stravinsky his choreography). I hope that's true, as there are fascinating tidbits - e.g., Stravinsky tinkering with passages of music to better fit the choreography.


After one of the matinees, four of the actors held an open discussion about the play. The audio recording is here: http://www.lct.org/content/platform/NIKOLAIANDTHEOTHER.cast.Platform.mov

Unfortunately, there are no plans to tour this play or produce it elsewhere. An archival tape of the recording has been made and we learned at the panel discussion that it will be available at the Dance Collection of the New York Public Library, Library for the Performing Arts.

In an interesting bit of trivia: John Glover, who plays Stravinsky, played the American embassy worker with the crewcut in White Nights who helped the Baryshnikov character escape. In the panel discussion, he admits to knowing little about classical music or dance.

Link to comment
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...