Original Broadway cast of 'God of Carnage' coming to Ahmanson Theatre
The original Broadway cast of "God of Carnage" — Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, James Gandolfini and Marcia Gay Harden — will reprise their roles when the Tony-winning play opens at the Ahmanson Theatre in downtown Los Angeles in April.
"God of Carnage," by French playwright Yasmina Reza, is set to open April 13 and will run to May 15. (Preview performances will start April 5.) This schedule represents a change from the previously announced run dates of April 27 to May 29.
Matthew Warchus, who staged the London and Broadway versions of the play, will also serve as director for this production, which is unique to L.A. and will not travel elsewhere. Warchus won a Tony for directing the Broadway production.
Originally written in French with an English translation by Christopher Hampton, "God of Carnage" is a dark comedy that tells of two sets of parents who come together after their children are involved in a brawl. The English-language version of the play is set in Brooklyn.
Michael Ritchie, the artistic director of Center Theatre Group, said that the L.A. casting was the result of "hard work and a lot of luck."
"From the beginning there was a hope that we might be able to get the original cast, but there were no promises about that. It really seemed like a long shot," said Ritchie.
He added that working with the New York producers of the play helped to secure the participation of the original cast.
"God of Carnage" opened on Broadway in 2009 and won the Tony Award that year for best play. The entire cast was nominated for Tonys, with Harden winning for best actress in a play. The Broadway production, which ran at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, closed in June after more than 450 regular performances and a couple of cast changes.
Daniels has had a special relationship with the play. The actor performed the role of Alan when the play opened on Broadway and later returned to the production in the role of Michael, which Gandolfini originally played.
Times theater critic Charles McNulty wrote in his review of the New York production that the cast "adds diverse personality to a work that is très-très-français in its marriage of mechanical boulevard comedy and abstract drama of ideas."
The L.A. production features the same principal producers as New York — Robert Fox, David Pugh & Dafydd Rogers, Stuart Thompson, Scott Rudin, Jon B. Platt, the Weinstein Company and the Shubert Organization.
"God of Carnage" had its world premiere in Zurich, Switzerland, in 2006 and debuted in Paris in 2008 in a production starring Isabelle Huppert. The play's London production, which opened in 2008, starred Ralph Fiennes.
A movie version of "God of Carnage," directed by Roman Polanski, is expected to start filming shortly with a cast of Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz, Kate Winslet and John C. Reilly.
The English-language movie features a screenplay co-written by Polanski and Reza. Hampton said in a recent interview that he was not involved in the translation of the screenplay. The movie will be shot largely in Paris, apparently because of its close resemblance to Brooklyn.
— David Ng
Photo: Marcia Gay Harden, left, Hope Davis, Jeff Daniels and James Gandolfini in the Broadway production of "God of Carnage." Credit: Joan Marcus.