Machinal closes on Broadway


Machinal, the second production at the American Airlines Theatre in our 2013-2014 Season brought Sophie Treadwell’s expressionist masterpiece back to Broadway for the first time in 85 years. This production played a total of 80 performances from first preview on December 20 through closing night on March 2.

The cast and crew of Machinal. Photo by Joan Marcus.

It was wonderful to welcome back so many Roundabout alumni: Suzanne Bertish (The Moliere Comedies), Michael Cumpsty (The Winslow Boy, Sunday in the Park with George), Morgan Spector (Harvey), Edward James Highland (Juno and the Paycock), Henny Russell (The Winslow Boy), Karen Walsh (Pygmalion), and Michael Warner (The Language of Trees).

Production photograph featuring Rebecca Hall. Photo by Joan Marcus.


This production also welcomed Rebecca Hall in her Broadway debut,  Damian BaldetAshley BellJeff BiehlArnie BurtonRyan DinningScott DrummondDion GrahamJason LoughlinMaria-Christina Oliveras and Daniel Pearce to the Roundabout family along with a remarkable creative team including Es Devlin (Sets), Michael Krass (Costumes), Matthew Herbert (Original Music), Matt Tierney (Sound), and Jane Cox (Lights).

Machinal, directed by Lyndsey Turner, received rave reviews from Time Out New York, New York Magazine and New York Post among others. Our audience also praised the gripping play in #3wordreviews on Twitter; “Phenomenal. Gripping. Indescribable”; “Intensely magical experience”.

A word cloud of your #3WordReviews.


Inspired by the themes, staging, and story of Machinal, over 100 middle school students from IS34 in Tottenville, Staten Island will write, design, and perform three original plays as part of our Education at Roundabout program. Roundabout Teaching Artists are mentoring the students work in acting and stage craft .

Students from Totten Intermediate School 34

Gail Winar, the Roundabout Project Coordinator for IS34, said, “All of the students attended the performance of Machinal and I was impressed with their engagement in the production and observations about the performance/production style, themes and content. We've discussed exploring expressionistic devices in our performance piece and they are very enthusiastic about trying a new performance style.” The new plays will premiere April 10 for their school and community at Totten Intermediate School 34.


To learn more about Machinal and its history, visit the Roundabout Archive or watch clips on our YouTube Channel.

Related Categories:
2013-2014 Season, Education @ Roundabout, Machinal, Roundabout Archive

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Machinal Reading List


Immerse yourself in the world of Machinal with our cast and creative teams' recommended reading list.

For Her Own Good by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English
About the book: A provocative new perspective on female history, the history of American medicine and psychology, and the history of child-rearing unlike any other.

Excerpt: "If you would get up and do something you would feel better," said my mother. I rose drearily, and essayed to brush up the floor a little, with a dustpan and small whiskbroom, but soon dropped those implements exhausted, and wept again in helpless shame.

I, the ceaselessly industrious, could do no work of any kind. I was so weak that the knife and fork sank from my hands-too tired to eat. I could not read nor write nor paint nor sew nor talk nor listen to talking, nor anything. I lay on the lounge and wept all day. The tears ran down into my ears on either side. I went to bed crying, woke in the night crying, sat on the edge of the bed in the morning and cried-from sheer continuous pain. Not physical, the doctors examined me and found nothing the matter. Read more.

Setting a Course: American Women in the 1920s by Dorothy M Brown
About the book: A synthesis of recent work and primary sources concerning the role women played in creating the changes in American society of the 1920s.

Daily Life in the United States by David E Kyvig
About the book: The twenties and thirties witnessed dramatic changes in American life: increasing urbanization, technological innovation, cultural upheaval, and economic disaster. In this fascinating book, the prize-winning historian David E. Kyvig describes everyday life in these decades, when automobiles and home electricity became commonplace, when radio and the movies became broadly popular. Find out more.

The Dollar Decade by Gary Dean Best
About the book:  This book examines the underlying causes of the tumult of the 1920s in America that has since captivated writers, readers, moviegoers, and television viewers. During the 1920s, Americans were aware of the momentous changes taking place in their lives. It was an introspective decade. Magazines and newspaper articles, books and anthologies explored the causes, nature, and implications of those changes. The impact of radio, and to a lesser extent motion pictures, rivaled the effects that the invention of printing had had on human society hundreds of years earlier. Add to these developments the effects of World War I and the popularization of Freud and Darwin, and the result was an America cast adrift on a sea of normlessness, treading water between two worlds: one of stability and tradition before the war, and one as yet dimly perceived in the mists of the future. Find out more.

Sophie Treadwell's expressionist masterpiece, Machinal plays through March 2 at the American Airlines Theatre. For more information and tickets please visit our website.

Related Categories:
2013-2014 Season, Machinal

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Michael Cumpsty: Over 15 Years with Roundabout


Michael Cumpsty’s first appearance on a Roundabout stage was in 1987 as a “moonstruck poet” in the Off-Broadway production of George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman. Since then, he has appeared in 17 Broadway shows including five Roundabout productions and has been nominated for a Tony Award and two Outer Critics Circle awards. Cumpsty’s most recent appearance on Broadway is in Machinal, now playing at the American Airlines Theatre through March 2.

In our 1997 Tony-nominated revival of 1776, Cumpsty played John Dickenson, the “hard-nosed” British loyalist among the delegates debating the Declaration of Independence. Playbill writer Harry Haun observed that the character “couldn't find better representation” than through Michael Cumpsty. Haun highlighted Cumpsty’s careful attention to language and precision in delivery, which allowed his Dickenson to be “the perfect pitchman for ideas and ideals.”


Michael Cumpsty and the cast of 1776. Photo by Joan Marcus.


Cumpsty returned to Roundabout in 2005 in another Tony-nominated production, The Constant Wife.  In the 1926 “unromantic” comedy, Cumpsty played an adulterous husband opposite Kate Burton as his betrothed, Constance.  USA Today writer Elysa Gardener said, “Michael Cumpsty captures the unfaithful husband's buffoonery with his usual vigor and grace.”


Kate Burton and Michael Cumpsty in The Constant Wife. Photo by Joan Marcus.


Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George marked Cumpsty’s third appearance in a Tony-nominated Roundabout production. The musical was inspired by the famous George Seurat painting  A Sunday afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.  Featured in ensemble of the musical, which is centered on a fictitious Seurat, Cumpsty's work did not go unnoticed by New York Times writer Ben Brantley. Brantley remarked, “I’ve never seen a supporting cast for this show that presents such finely individuated characterizations.”


Michael Cumpsty and Jessica Molaskey in Sunday in the Park with George. Photo by Joan Marcus.


In our 2013-2014 Season, Michael Cumpsty has made two Broadway appearances. Last fall in The Winslow Boy, Cumpsty provided a “graceful drollness” to the role of Desmond Curry, a family friend to the troubled Winslow family.  Cumpsty’s portrayal of Curry, a winning cricket player who finds himself on the losing side of love with the Winslow’s daughter Catherine, was described as endearing by Time Out New York.


Charlotte Parry and Michael Cumpsty in The Winslow Boy. Photo by Joan Marcus.


Currently, Michael Cumpsty can be seen in Machinal at the American Airlines Theatre. Written by Sophie Treadwell in response to the infamous murder trial of Ruth Snyder, Machinal tells the story of a young woman (played by Rebecca Hall) who is driven to murder her husband after taking up a lover. Cumpsty plays the role of the “odious and smug” Husband, who to the young woman represents a repulsive obligation to a mechanized, callous society.


Michael Cumpsty and Rebecca Hall in Machinal. Photo by Joan Marcus.


Cumpsty receives praise for the role; Linda Winer says, “Michael Cumpsty has an almost touching lack of self-awareness as Husband, whose unbearable bromides contrast violently with the passion of Young Woman's Lover,” and USA Today raves that his portrayal of the Husband is, “a caricature of a condescending (and harrowingly dull) patriarch, gamely played by the always-excellent Michael Cumpsty.”


Michael Cumpsty as Husband. Photo by Joan Marcus.


Machinal plays at the American Airlines Theatre until March 2, 2014. For more information and tickets, please visit our website.

Related Categories:
2013-2014 Season, Machinal, Star Spotlight

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