Film star Rachel McAdams will make her Broadway debut in the spring in the acclaimed play “Mary Jane,” a poignant story about a mother caring for a seriously ill child.
“Mary Jane,” written by Amy Herzog, premiered at Yale Repertory Theatre in 2017 and later had an off-Broadway run at New York Theater Workshop the same year. The New York Times critic Jesse Green described it as “a heartbreaker for anyone human” and “the most profound and harrowing of Ms. Herzog’s many fine plays.”
McAdams, known for her role as Regina George in the 2004 film “Mean Girls,” had a background in stage performance during her upbringing in Canada and studied theater at York University in Ontario. However, she hasn’t performed on stage professionally since her student days. In a phone interview, she revealed that her initial career aspirations were in theater acting.
“I had dreams of going to the Stratford Festival in Canada and hadn’t really entertained Broadway — that was so far off, and even now I’m pinching myself,” she said. “I’ve been looking for a play forever, but kind of casually — not fully committed to it — and this came along, I read it and I just was so taken with it.”
McAdams praised the play as “beautifully written” and explained that she couldn’t stop thinking about it. She appreciated its focus on shedding light on the challenges and resilience of families with children with special needs. She also noted the presence of comedy in the piece, portraying the positive and resilient character of Mary Jane and well-drawn supporting characters.
Rachel McAdams received an Academy Award nomination for her role in the 2015 film “Spotlight” and is well-known for her part in the 2004 film adaptation of “The Notebook,” which is also being adapted into a musical set to open on Broadway in March.
McAdams clarified that her decision to come to Broadway was unrelated to the dual strikes by screenwriters and actors affecting Hollywood. She had committed to “Mary Jane” before the strikes began. While she expressed some apprehension about returning to the stage, she also looked forward to the experience.
“There’s no editor — you’re really so naked and vulnerable,” she commented. “I hope my training will support me, but it was such a long time ago.”
She added, “I think it might be like riding a bike. However, she acknowledged, “there’s a little bit of the unknown about it. And I think also just having emotional stamina — you really don’t know until you’re there if you’re going to be able to fill your vessel up enough to keep you going. So, it’s just all those ‘I won’t know until I get there’ things, but I’m excited to do the work.”
The off-Broadway production of “Mary Jane” received three Obie Awards, including playwriting for Herzog, direction by Anne Kauffman, and a lead performance by Carrie Coon. Various regional productions have followed, including one currently running in Santa Rosa, California.
The Manhattan Theatre Club, a nonprofit organization, will present the Broadway production of “Mary Jane,” also directed by Anne Kauffman, at its Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. Previews are scheduled to begin on April 2, with the opening date and the names of the additional cast members yet to be announced.
Amy Herzog, known for her play “4000 Miles,” which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2013, has recently focused on adapting classic works, including Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” and “An Enemy of the People” for Broadway productions.