Audrey’s Theater Talk: Shalita Grant Makes Her Broadway Debut in ‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’

billy magnussen & others

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’s Billy Magnussen, Genevieve Angelson, Sigourney Weaver, Christopher Durang (playwright), David Hyde Pierce, Kristine Nielsen, Shalita Grant (Photo by Walter McBride)

*After a sold-out run at Lincoln Center, Christopher Durang’s award-winning Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike play moved to Broadway for a 17-week strictly limited engagement at the Golden Theater (252 West 45th Street, NYC).  The Broadway run opened on Thursday, March 14, 2013 and once again the hysterically funny play met with resounding hilarity and enormous success resulting in its being extended twice moving its closing date to August 25, 2013.  At the height of all of this is hype is a Tony Award win.

Durang’s play about a dysfunctional family walked off with the Tony Award for Best Play beating out “The Assembled Parties,” “Lucky Guy” and “The Testament of Mary” at the 67th Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall.  More good news coming out of that camp is that the play has recouped its $2.5 million investment!

Directed by Nicholas Martin, the comedy is based on characters and themes from Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, and stars Sigourney Weaver, Kristine Nielsen and David Hyde Pierce with Shalita Grant, Billy Magnussen and Liesel Allen-Yeager.  The non-stop, laugh out loud engagement takes place in Pennsylvania at the countryside where the  laughs are supersized.

Weaver, whose final performance will take place on July 28 when she will be replaced by Julie White, is a successful movie star who pays a visit to her family and brings along her boy toy.  What unfolds is a persistent problem the siblings have about growing old gracefully.  Adding to the  unbridled hilarity is Grant who plays the misguided psychic maid Cassandra which she plays to infinite perfection.

Broadway critics also felt that Grant had nailed her role and she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play.  And although the Tony eluded her this time around, this will be just the first of many nominations to come because she has that “it” thing that theatergoers love.  Grant did however receive Theatre World Award for Best Debut Performance.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’s creative team features David Korins (scenic design), Emily Rebholz (costume design), Justin Townsend (lighting design) and Mark Bennett (original music and sound design).

In addition to the Tony Award win, the play has won Best Play awards from the New York Drama Critics’ Circle, the Drama Desk, the Drama League and the Outer Critics Circle.

The Broadway run is produced by Joey Parnes, Larry Hirschhorn, Joan Raffe/Jhett Tolentino, Martin Platt & David Elliott, Pat Flicker Addiss, Catherine Adler, John O’Boyle, Joshua Goodman, Jamie DeRoy/Richard Winkler, Cricket Hooper Jiranek/Michael Palitz, Mark S. Golub & David S. Golub, Radio Mouse Entertainment, Shadowcatcher Entertainment, Mary Cossette/Barbara Manocherian, Megan Savage/Meredith Lynsey Schade, Hugh Hysell/Richard Jordan, Cheryl Wiesenfeld/Ron Simons, S.D. Wagner, and John Johnson, in association with The McCarter Theatre Center and Lincoln Center Theater.

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Source: Electronic Urban Report