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Possible Broadway Transfer of Cruz's Anna in the Tropics Would Retain McCarter Cast

By Robert Simonson
September 4, 2003

Producer Roger Berlind remains committed to a New York future for the Pulitzer Prize-winning Anna in the Tropics, which will have its regional premiere at New Jersey's McCarter Theatre Sept. 9-Oct. 19.As previously announced, Berlind and Daryl Roth — who produced the 2001 Broadway transfer of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Proof — are keeping a close eye on the McCarter staging with the idea of swiftly transferring the show to Manhattan. Berlind, who characterized Anna as a "beautiful play," confirmed to Playbill On-Line that Broadway is the goal and that the Manhattan production would likely retain the New Jersey cast, which is led by Jimmy Smits, Daphne Rubin Vega, Priscilla Lopez and John Ortiz.

Playwright Cruz — a former McCarter artist-in-residence — has set his play in a Cuban-American cigar factory in 1929. The factory employs "lectors" to entertain and educate the factory workers, and a new lector who reads aloud from Anna Karenina becomes "a catalyst in the lives of his avid listeners, for whom Tolstoy, the tropics, and the American dream prove a volatile combination." Rounding out the cast are Vanessa Aspillaga and David Zayas.

Berlind has a busy season before him. In addition to Anna, he is producing the Broadway revival of Wonderful Town, the Kennedy Center stint of Stephen Sondheim's Bounce, and the Off-Broadway evening of one-acts, Beckett/Albee. Variety also reports that Berlind and Roth will likely bring the upcoming revival of Craig Lucas' Reckless — at the Second Stage Theatre in spring 2004 — to Broadway. That production stars Mary Louise Parker under the direction of Mark Brokaw.
 

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I've seen a couple of other Nilo Cruz works ("Two Sisters and a Piano" and "Lorca in a Green Dress"). He's really a very wonderful and talented playwrite. Since I don't expect to see a performance anytime soon, I've ordered the script for "Anna" and look forward to reading it.

This is a pretty new piece of theatre, so I'd be highly surprised if a video was available. But, keep your eyes open for any local productions. Cruz is definitely on-the-up in the theatre world!
 

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I saw Anna In The Tropics performed this Summer in Solvang. Outstanding play! The premise is a Miami-based family cigar factory -- all Cuban immigrants -- is struggling between the "old ways" and the new ways. The wife hires a Lecter for the factory. A Lecter is a traditional Cuban position in a cigar factory who dramatically reads literary classics to the cigar rollers in order to (a) allow them to gain a literary education by osmosis, and (b) to alleviate the tedium. This new Lecter reads Anna Kornikova to the factory and what is portrayed in the novel becomes manifest in the lives of the workers.

A great play and I am searching for the book/script. There is one quote wherein the Lecter and the factory owner are musing about the societal benefits of cigar smoking. The insight is that there is great benefit in slowing down and taking the time to smoke the cigar, thinking about things, building relationships, discussing issues, etc.

If this play is being performed in your community, I would highly recommend that you make the effort to see it. You won't be able to wait to get home and light up! :)
 
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