Two-time Tony winners Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy will soon lead the cast of Eugene O’Neill’s epic drama The Iceman Cometh at Chicago’s Goodman Theater. Lane will play the role of Theodore "Hickey" Hickman with Dennehy as Larry Slade. The classic play will run from April 22-June 12, 2012, directed by Goodman Artistic Director Robert Falls.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Falls said that "Nathan had approached me about wanting to work on an O'Neill play, and I have finally been able to put together this project I have been working on for three years. I think this is the greatest American play." In a 1990 Goodman production of the play also helmed by Falls, Dennehy played the part of Hickey. The role has been played on Broadway by such actors as Jason Robards, James Earl Jones and Kevin Spacey, as well as Lee Marvin in a 1973 film adaptation.
Saying he’s ready for “a healthy vacation from the Broadway theater scene," Lane told the paper that he has been wanting to take his first crack at a major O'Neill role, and ideally work with both Falls and longtime friend Dennehy. "I thought," Lane said, "that if I was going to climb this mountain, I should do it in a city where I feel comfortable and with people with whom I feel comfortable."
Lane, who was most recently seen on Broadway as patriarch Gomez in The Addams Family, earned Tony Awards for his roles in The Producers and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. His other Broadway credits include Waiting for Godot, November, Butley, The Odd Couple, Guys and Dolls and Love! Valour! Compassion!. Dennehy earned Tony Awards for roles in Death of a Salesman and O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night, and has also been seen on the Broadway stage in Translations, Inherit the Wind and Desire Under the Elms.
Written in 1939, The Iceman Cometh is set in a Greenwich Village saloon and rooming house in 1912, where it follows a motley group of drunks and delusional dreamers. The show premiered on Broadway in 1946, starring James Barton and Carl Benton Reid. A 1999 revival starred Kevin Spacey as Hickey and Tim Pigott-Smith as Slade, as well as Tony Danza, Paul Giamatti and Robert Sean Leonard.
Despite Lane and Dennehy’s undisputed Broadway appeal, New York theater fans should not necessarily expect to see them bring the production to the East Coast anytime soon. "I am not thinking of this as some pre-Broadway tryout," Lane told the Tribune, "I just want it to be good in Chicago."