But despite its dark, primal underpinnings, the Goodman Theatre's production of O'Neill's "Desire Under the Elms" (which concludes its local run this weekend) is headed to Broadway, where shows have been dropping like the proverbial flies in recent weeks. Even several upbeat popular musicals haven't been able to keep going as the public slam shut their wallets and refuse to spend on anything much more than the bare necessities. All of which should make the rather downbeat "Desire Under the Elms" an interesting test of what can and cant' work in the Broadway arena at this moment in time.
The first ad for the New York engagement that begins April 14, debuts in the New York Times Sunday, and it suggests the show's producers, who include Steve Traxler of Chicago's Jam Theatricals, are hoping a very positive review of "Desire" in Chicago by New York Times theater critic Charles Isherwood will help sell the intense production to a demanding Big Apple audience. A steamy image of a bare-chested, buff Pablo Schreiber adds a touch of sexiness to the launch print ad. That can't hurt. And a large headshot of Brian Dennehy, widely admired for his work with the show's director Bob Falls, should perk up some interest among fans of the veteran actor and director.
Still, this "Desire Under the Elms" isn't likely to be the easiest of sells on Broadway now. But it will be worth well watching to see how successful "Desire's" marketing effort and the show itself are on the Great White Way.