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Broadway not in the cards for ‘Iceman Cometh’ — for now

Updated: June 29, 2012 3:24PM

“There will not be a Broadway transfer of our production of ‘Iceman Cometh’ at this time,” said Roche Schulfer of the Goodman Theatre, putting both high expectations, as well as significant doubts about the future of director Robert Falls’ acclaimed revival of the Eugene O’Neill masterpiece to rest. At least for now.

“The reasons are many,” explained Schulfer. “There is the high cost of the production [which had a cast of 18 actors and ran close to five hours], and the unavailability of a proper theater.”

In the meantime, Nathan Lane, who starred as traveling salesman Theodore “Hickey” Hickman in the production, has been hired for a recurring role in the fourth season of the CBS drama, “The Good Wives,” in which he’ll be playing “a bottom-line-obsessed manager attempting to cut costs to get the law firm back to financial health.”

Schulfer did not rule out the possibility of a remount sometime in the future (“The sets are in storage, and stranger things have happened,” he noted), but he was more than happy to detail the show’s Chicago achievements.

“‘Iceman’ turned out to be the most successful production in our history in terms of audience capacity, numbers at the box office and critical and audience response,” Schulfer said. “From our Internet sales and credit card reference numbers we also have realized that we had audience members from 48 states, as well as from Australia, Italy, Hong Kong, South Africa and beyond.”

New York and Hollywood producer Scott Rudin [who granted the Goodman the rights to the play for Chicago only], still has the rights to “The Iceman Cometh” for another two years.

“Maybe, at a later point, when Nathan is available again, we can reexamine the possibilities,” said Schulfer. “But frankly, we were never really coounting on anything beyond Chicago, and while for many years the test of success was always, ‘Is it going to Broadway?,’ I think it has gotten to the point now where we no longer need that New York endorsement.”

As for filming the show for wide release as both New York’s Metropolitan Opera and London’s National Theatre have been doing for several years, Schulfer said: “Both those places were able to cut deals to significantly lower all labor costs. Neither Broadway nor the regional theater operations here are ready for that yet. I hope they eventually will be.”

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