A Starry Cast Navigates ‘Uncle Vanya’ and ‘Every Emotion Under the Sun’

Broadway shows usually come with a back story about the yearslong slog it took to get them there. Not so with Heidi Schreck’s new translation of Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya,” which arrived at Lincoln Center Theater’s Vivian Beaumont Theater not even 12 months after its inception.

Directed by Lila Neugebauer, it is Schreck’s first Broadway show since “What the Constitution Means to Me,” in 2019, and the ensemble is a starry one. Steve Carell is making his Broadway debut as Vanya, who believes he has wasted his life running a provincial estate and its farm alongside his niece, Sonia, played by Alison Pill, to support Sonia’s largely absentee father, portrayed by Alfred Molina.

William Jackson Harper, best known for “The Good Place,” plays Astrov, the eco-nerd doctor whom Sonia loves. Anika Noni Rose, a Tony Award winner for “Caroline, or Change,” is the glamorous Elena, Sonia’s stepmother, for whom both Vanya and Astrov yearn.

In mid-April, a week before the show’s opening on April 24, Schreck, Neugebauer, Carell, Harper, Pill and Rose gathered to talk over their dinner break in a room off the Beaumont lobby. These are edited excerpts from that conversation.

Along with Harper and Carell, both at left, the play also features Alfred Molina, Jayne Houdyshell and Mia Katigbak in supporting roles.Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

What was your relationship to “Uncle Vanya” and Chekhov before this show?

HEIDI SCHRECK I lived in Russia right out of college for two years. When I moved back to Seattle, I started this theater company with my husband, and there was this Russian company who would come and perform Russian plays. They invited me to be the translator. Basically I would do live interpretation.

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