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6 Notable Productions of The Cherry Orchard

September 15, 2016 by Juliana Panzera
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Written between 1901 and 1903, and first produced in 1904 in Moscow, Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard is recognized as one of the classic works of the 20th century.

In fact, The Cherry Orchard has had 16 major productions on Broadway alone. In case you’ve missed them (or have only ever had the joy of seeing your high school’s production…) here are some of the highlights.

1904 – Moscow Debut

The_Cherry_Orchard_1904
Scene from The Cherry Orchard, Moscow Art Theater, 1904.

The Cherry Orchard opened on January 17, 1904, at the Moscow Art Theatre in a production directed by Konstantin Stanislavski. Though intended by Chekhov to be a comedy, this production was directed mostly as a tragedy, which Chekhov greatly disliked. Critics opinions on the play were divided, though it was mostly a theatrical success and was almost immediately presented in many cities in Russia and abroad. However, shortly after the play debuted, Chekhov’s tuberculosis worsened, leading to his death in July of that same year.

1962 – Royal Shakespeare Company

Fast forward roughly 60 years, to the Royal Shakespeare Company/BBC Television broadcast version in 1962 starring Judi Dench as Anya. Nearly 20 years later Ms. Dench would star in a BBC version of the same play, this time as Ranevskaya.

1976 – New York Shakespeare Festival / Lincoln Center Vivian Beaumont Theatre

Playbill for The Cherry Orchard 1976
Photo Credit: Playbill Vault

A new production (the thirteenth to be exact) of The Cherry Orchard came to Broadway in 1976 starring Meryl Streep as Dunyasha and Irene Worth as Ranevskaya. This production was nominated for 5 Tony Awards, ultimately bringing home two for Best Costume and Best Lighting Design. Also in the ensemble of this cast, future Academy Award nominee (and current The Cherry Orchard star) Diane Lane.

1997 – Moscow Arts Festival on Broadway

The Cherry Orchard Moscow Arts Festival 1997 Playbill
Photo Credit: Playbill Vault

Part of a two-production season on Broadway, this revival of The Cherry Orchard, a part of the Moscow Arts Festival on Broadway, was well reviewed. Performed in Russian with headsets provided for the English translation at the Martin Beck Theater the “gray-toned set” was “well below the Broadway budget standard (flat, painted trees loom over a few sticks of parlor furniture),” (Variety) but still The Cherry Orchard did blossom.

2009 – BAM

The Cherry Orchard at BAM 2009
Photo Credit: bam.org

In 2009, a new version of The Cherry Orchard by Tom Stoppard premiered at BAM as part of the first production of The Bridge Project, a partnership uniting BAM, The Old Vic, and Neal Street Productions. Directed by Academy Award-winner Sam Mendes, this production starred Simon Russell Beale, Sinéad Cusack, and Rebecca Hall from the UK; and Richard Easton, Josh Hamilton, and Ethan Hawke from the US.

2016 – Roundabout Theatre Company

Diane Lane in the Cherry Orchard on Broadway

Roundabout Theatre Company will present a new adaptation of The Cherry Orchard by Tony Award-winning Stephen Karam at the American Airlines Theatre being this September. Starring Diane Lane as Ranevskaya, Tavi Gevinson as Anya, Joel Grey as Firs, Celia Keenan-Bolger as Varya, and more. Enter the lottery to get $35 tickets on TodayTix here.

Thinking of a production we missed? Join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.