Long wait for local production of 'Long Day's Journey'

Contrary to entertainment dictum, the show doesn’t always go on.

Hurricanes, blizzards, fires, crashing chandeliers and other disasters have all caused the curtain to fall prematurely, fail to rise on schedule or sometimes not come up at all.

Legend has it that the premiere of “Macbeth” was disrupted because an actor was killed by a real dagger mistakenly substituted for a prop, which supposedly prompted a series of mishaps over the centuries involving the Shakespearean tragedy. In fact, superstitious actors cast in present-day productions still refrain from using the title, instead calling it “the Scottish play.”

Here in New London, a much-anticipated production of Eugene O’Neill’s classic drama, “Long Day’s Journey into Night,” has been temporarily done in not by a natural catastrophe or murderous prop, but because of an exclusivity clause demanded by producers of a recently announced Broadway revival.

“Unfortunately, things like this happen all the time. It’s always frustrating,” Derron Wood, Flock Theatre’s artistic director, said the other day.

Mr. Wood was referring to next year’s planned staging of the play, starring Academy Award-winning actress Jessica Lange, that has restricted the rights to all productions surrounding New York, New England, Los Angeles and Chicago until the middle of 2016.

Flock Theatre had cast the local production of “Long Day” and had prepared to stage at least one performance at Monte Cristo Cottage on Pequot Avenue in New London, where Mr. O’Neill spent summers with his family and where he was inspired to set his semi-autobriogaphical play.

Though disappointed by the delay, Mr. Wood said he hopes to put on “Long Day’s Journey” next summer in New London.

“It will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to stage a play in a house where the playwright actually lived, he said.

Mr. Wood also plans to see the New York production, which in addition to Miss Lange will feature celebrated actors Gabriel Byrne and John Gallagher Jr.

Miss Lange will portray Mary Tyrone, a woman in the grip of morphine addiction who is modeled after the playwright’s mother, while Mr. Byrne will play patriarch James Tyrone, a fading actor based on Mr. O’Neill’s real-life father. Mr. Gallagher has the role of Edmund Tyrone, an intellectual like Mr. O’Neill who went to sea and contracted tuberculosis.

Mr. O’Neill was so apprehensive about revealing personal details about his family’s dysfunctional life in New London that when it was completed in 1942 he placed a sealed copy of “Long Day’s Journey” in a Random House vault with instructions that it not be published until 25 years after his death.

But his third wife, Carlotta Monterey, voided that agreement by transferring the rights of the play to Yale University, and “Long Day’s Journey” subsequently was published in 1956, three years after Mr. O’Neill died.

Meanwhile, for Flock Theatre, different shows will go on, including Shakespeare’s “Titus Andonicus,” scheduled to open July 15 at the Connecticut College Arboretum, and a new work being developed from the text of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.”

The local company also is updating its shadow-puppet version of another popular Shakespearean play, but we won’t jinx it by mentioning the actual name. Let’s just call it Flock Theater’s interpretation of “that Scottish play.”

We trust Mr. Wood will be careful not to rely on any dagger props.

The editorial board is composed of the publisher and four journalists of varied editing and reporting backgrounds. The board's discussions and information gained from its meetings with political, civic, and business leaders drive the institutional voice of The Day, as expressed in its editorials. The editorial department operates separately from the newsroom.

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