Laurie Metcalf to return to Broadway in a horror story, 'Grey House'

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Laurie Metcalf to return to Broadway in a horror story, 'Grey House'
Laurie Metcalf at the Golden Theatre in New York, April 5, 2019. “Grey House,” directed by Joe Mantello and also starring Tatiana Maslany, had a well-reviewed debut in Chicago. It begins performances in April. (Caroline Tompkins/The New York Times)

by Michael Paulson

NEW YORK, NY.- Horror films have become a rare bright spot for contemporary Hollywood. Now a group of theater artists is hoping the genre can work on Broadway, too.

Producers Tom Kirdahy (“Hadestown”) and Robert Ahrens (“Little Shop of Horrors”) said Tuesday that they are planning to bring an unsettling new play, “Grey House,” to Broadway this spring. The production will reunite actress Laurie Metcalf and director Joe Mantello, each of whom has won two Tony Awards. Their most recent collaboration, a revival of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” never made it to opening night because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Metcalf, a veteran stage actress also known for her work on television (“Roseanne”) and film (“Lady Bird”), will co-star with Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”) and Paul Sparks (“House of Cards”). This will not be Metcalf’s first scary story on Broadway: In 2015 she starred in a stage production of “Misery,” based on the novel by Stephen King.

Also in the cast: Sophia Anne Caruso (“Beetlejuice”) and Millicent Simmonds (“A Quiet Place”).

“Grey House,” written by Levi Holloway, is about a couple (Maslany and Sparks) who, after crashing their car during a snowstorm, wind up taking shelter in a cabin occupied by a group of teenage girls and a woman who claims to be their mother (Metcalf). The play had a 2019 production at A Red Orchid Theater in Chicago, where critic Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune hailed it as “a savvy, smart, self-aware new play,” and declared that “it just happens to be legitimately terrifying.”

The Broadway production, scheduled to begin previews April 29 and to open May 30 at the Lyceum Theater, will not be eligible for this year’s Tony Awards, but instead will be considered part of the 2023-24 season.

Holloway, a Florida native who spent much of his career in Chicago and now lives in Los Angeles, has long worked on integrating deaf and hearing performers — he co-founded Neverbird Project, a theater company for deaf and hearing young people — and one of the characters in “Grey House” is deaf. That character will be played by Simmonds, who is deaf.

Holloway said in an interview that the first movie he saw was “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” when he was 5 (his father was a horror buff), but that he has mixed feelings about his play being classified in the horror genre.

“It’s a word I’m never quite comfortable with,” he said. “I think all good theater is horror. By my estimation horror asks our characters to change, and they must change in order to survive, and that change usually takes the form of the truth. I think that translates to most great stories.”

He said the plot of the play “just comes from my nightmares.”

“It’s about a lot of things, most of which I don’t know the words for — it’s about love and pain that we carry, and the shelter we build for them both, and about the way we protect the things that hurt us the most, because who are we without our wounds?” he said. “It’s a contemplation on grief and love and how we sometimes feel safe in our pain.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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