Martin McDonagh's 'Hangmen' will open on Broadway this spring
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Martin McDonagh's 'Hangmen' will open on Broadway this spring
From left: Jeremy Crutchley, Tracie Bennett, Mark Addy, Richard Hollis, John Horton and Ryan Pope in “Hangmen,” at the Golden Theater, in New York, on Feb. 28, 2020. The production, which was canceled at the start of the pandemic, will try again, this time starring Alfie Allen of “Game of Thrones” fame. Sara Krulwich/The New York Times.

by Michael Paulson

NEW YORK, NY.- “Hangmen” has been saved from the executioner.

The dark comedy, by British playwright Martin McDonagh, will open on Broadway this spring, two years after the production was canceled by its producer as the coronavirus pandemic forced theaters to close.

The resurrected production, about an English hangman at the moment Britain banned capital punishment, will now star Alfie Allen, who played Theon Greyjoy on “Game of Thrones,” as a mysterious visitor to a bar run by the hangman. The hangman will be played by David Threlfall, a Tony nominee for “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.”

The play is now scheduled to begin previews April 8 and to open April 21 at the Golden Theater.

In 2020, “Hangmen,” with a slightly different cast, had completed its 13th preview performance, also at the Golden, and was a week away from opening when Broadway theaters closed.

Eight days into the shutdown, producers announced that they were canceling the production, saying, “We do not have the economic resources to be able to continue to pay the theater owners, cast and crew through this still undefined closure period.” The show was the first, and one of the few, to make such a move.

“I’m not saying I had any wisdom, but when people were saying we’d be back open in four weeks, I never believed that,” lead producer Robert Fox said this week. “We were still being charged rent, and all sorts of expenses we didn’t have the money to cover. I assumed that was the end of ‘Hangmen’ on Broadway.”

But the play was given new life by the U.S. government: It was awarded a $5.2 million Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, and was then granted an extension for its use of that money until June 30, 2022. Fox said that a combination of the federal aid, and investors returning money they had received from an insurance claim, “meant we had enough to put the show on, and hopefully to be able to support it in its early days, if it needs support.”

Much had to be rethought: During the past two years, one of the play’s producers, Elizabeth I. McCann, died; several of the play’s lead actors became unavailable for personal or professional reasons; and the set was dismantled. But Fox said he wanted to try again, in large part because of his fondness for the work of McDonagh, a four-time Tony nominee whose other plays include “The Lieutenant of Inishmore” and whose films include “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”

“I’m a huge Martin fan — I think he’s a true original, and a brilliant writer, and this is the third play of Martin’s I will have produced on Broadway,” Fox said. “I don’t think anybody’s putting it back on because they think they’re going to make a lot of money, but they believe it’s a wonderful play of Martin’s, and hopefully people want to see a dark mystery comedy and enjoy themselves.”

“Hangmen” began its life in London, at the Royal Court Theater, and then, following a West End run, had an off-Broadway production at the Atlantic Theater Company, where The New York Times critic Ben Brantley called it “criminally enjoyable.” Matthew Dunster has directed each production, and will do so again on Broadway. The Broadway production will feature Tracie Bennett (“End of the Rainbow”) as the hangman’s wife.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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