The new production, directed by Terry Johnson, will have a limited season from 13 July to 11 September 2010 at the Vaudeville Theatre, as the Old Vic’s first West End production beyond its own home base on The Cut in Waterloo.
Set in the 1970s, The Prisoner of Second Avenue is a black comedy depicting a New York couple, Mel (Goldblum) and Edna Edison, enduring the trials and tribulations of city life. Mel is made redundant and the stress of an economic crisis and urban life pushes him into having a nervous breakdown. The family gathers to offer support, with Edna stoically bearing the burden of his disintegration and self-pity.
Jeff Goldblum’s film credits include The Fly, Into the Night, Deep Cover, Jurassic Park, The Right Stuff, The Life Aquatic, Man of the Year, The Big Chill and Independence Day and on TV he was nominated for an Emmy for his appearance on Will and Grace. In 2005, he won an Outer Critics Circle Award for his performance in the Broadway premiere of Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman.
The Prisoner of Second Avenue originally premiered on Broadway in 1971, starring Peter Falk and Lee Grant, where it ran for two years and was subsequently made into a 1975 film starring Jack Lemmon and Anne Bancroft. It finally received its West End premiere in a 1999 production starring Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason.
Neil Simon’s many other Broadway credits include Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, Plaza Suite, The Last of the Red Hot Lovers, California Suite, Chapter Two, Brighton Beach Memoirs and books for the musicals including Sweet Charity (currently revived at the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket), Promises Promises (currently on Broadway), They're Playing Our Song and The Goodbye Girl.
British director Terry Johnson’s most recent credits include La Cage aux Folles (just nominated for 11 Tony Awards for its Broadway transfer), The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, End of the Rainbow, Rain Man, Whipping It Up, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Hitchcock Blonde.
The Prisoner of Second Avenue is designed by Rob Howell, with lighting by Neil Austin. It’s presented by the Old Vic Theatre Company/Old Vic Productions plc and Sonia Friedman Productions. No further casting has been announced.
Commenting on the new venture, Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey said: “This is such an exciting development for the Old Vic and brings so many strong relationships together. First, to stage a production in the West End, taking our work to a new space and connecting with a wider audience. Second, I have long wanted to present a Neil Simon play in London. I adore his writing and we’ve had a great relationship over the years. Third, I will be delighted to welcome Jeff Goldblum back to London. We had such a great experience together in Speed-the-Plow and I couldn’t be happier that he’s going to appear in this remarkable play. We’re looking forward to collaborating with Sonia Friedman again after our great success together with The Norman Conquests in New York.”
Jeff Goldblum said: "I'm so grateful and thrilled about being back in London on the stage. My recent experience at the Old Vic was the best time I've ever had. To work with Kevin Spacey, my friend and a true genius, will be delicious. I’m also excited to be back with the entire group at the Old Vic - a sterling, nourishing and gorgeous family. And how delightful to be working with Terry Johnson. I've been in love with Neil Simon's work my whole life. He's not only a comic genius, as everyone knows, but sage in matters of the soul as well.”