After critical brickbats, the premature closure of Resurrection Blues and five months of darkness, things looked bleak this past spring, but Kevin Spacey’s Old Vic is ending the year on a high with confirmation of the first Broadway transfer since the Hollywood actor-turned-artistic director started programming the historic London theatre in September 2004.

A Moon for the Misbegotten, which finishes its run at the Old Vic on 23 December 2006, will open on 9 April 2007 (previews from 29 March) for a limited ten-week season at New York’s Brooks Atkinson Theatre. Spacey himself stars in Howard Davies’ revival of Eugene O’Neill’s 1947 American classic, along with Olivier Award winner Eve Best and Colm Meaney.

When the production opened in London on 26 September 2006 (previews from 15 September), it was greeted with near-unanimous praise (See Review Round-up, 27 Sep 2006): “tremendous, riveting” (Michael Coveney, Whatsonstage.com), “that rarest of theatrical treats: an evening of raw, powerful emotion” (Michael Billington, Guardian), “shatteringly powerful production” (Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph, “is there better acting to be found anywhere? I’d be surprised” (Benedict Nightingale, The Times).

Most critics also deemed it the highlight-to-date of Spacey’s regime, in which their faith was now restored. According to the Independent’s Paul Taylor, “this marvellous evening gives one the sense that they have learned by their past mistakes and may go on to a thrilling future”. Earlier this month, Spacey was nominated for Best Actor in this year’s Evening Standard Awards (See News, 9 Nov 2006), which is likely to be the first of many accolades for the production.

A Moon for the Misbegotten reunites Spacey with director Howard Davies, whose 1998 Almeida revival of O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh brought Spacey to the Old Vic stage for the first time when it transferred to the West End and won him a clutch of Best Actor awards. That production subsequently transferred to New York, also to the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, in 1999, Spacey’s last Broadway outing. O’Neill’s play has been seen more recently in New York – Gabriel Byrne and Cherry Jones starred in a Broadway revival in 2000.

Josie (Best), a towering woman with a quick tongue and a ruined reputation, lives in a dilapidated Connecticut farmhouse with her conniving father, Phil Hogan (Meaney). Together they’re a formidable force as they scrape together a livelihood. But Josie’s softer side is exposed through her love of Jim Tyrone (Spacey), Hogan’s landlord and drinking buddy, a third-rate actor whose dreams of stardom were washed away by alcohol. One night, they find solace in each others’ arms, and their true feelings are revealed.

The production is designed by Bob Crowley, with costumes by Lynette Mauro, lighting by Paule Constable, music by Dominic Muldowney and sound by Christopher Shutt. It’s presented in London by the Old Vic with Elliot Martin, Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer, who will also be producing it in New York.

- by Terri Paddock