Burn This

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Burn This
Written byLanford Wilson
  • Anna Mann
  • Pale
  • Burton
  • Larry
Place premieredTheater 890, New York City
Original languageEnglish
SettingLower Manhattan

Burn This (stylized as Burn/This for the 2019 revival) is a play by Lanford Wilson. Like much of Wilson's work, the play includes themes of gay identity and relationships.

Plot summary[edit]

The play begins shortly after the funeral of Robbie, a young, gay dancer who drowned in a boating accident with his lover Dom. In attendance were Robbie's roommates: his sensitive dance partner and choreographer, Anna, and confident, gay advertising executive Larry. Soon joining them in Robbie's lower Manhattan loft are screenwriter Burton (Anna's longtime lover) and Pale (Robbie's cocaine-snorting, hyperactive restaurant manager brother). In the face of their shared tragedy, the quartet attempts to make sense of their lives and reconsider their own identities and relationships. Anna learns to be independent and self-confident. She begins to pursue her interest in choreography and begins a relationship with Pale, ending her dispassionate relationship with her longtime boyfriend.[1]

Production history[edit]

Burn This was commissioned by the Circle Repertory Company. The play opened Off-Broadway on February 19, 1987 at Theatre 890. Directed by Marshall W. Mason, the cast featured Jonathan Hogan, Joan Allen, John Malkovich, and Lou Liberatore. John Lee Beatty won the 1988 Henry Hewes Design Award for Scenic Design for this production.[2] The world premiere was produced by the Center Theatre Group at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles opening January 22, 1987, also directed by Mason.[3][4][5]

The play transferred to Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre, opening on October 14, 1987 and closing on October 29, 1988 after 437 performances and seven previews. Again directed by Mason, the original cast appeared in the Broadway production.[6][7] Over the course of the production, replacements and understudies included Lisa Emery, Scott Glenn, Lonny Price, and Eric Roberts.[8][9]

The West End production directed by Robert Allan Ackerman opened on November 7, 1990 at the Lyric Theatre. Malkovich and Liberatore were joined by Juliet Stevenson and Michael Simkins. The play had previously played at the Hampstead Theatre prior to transferring to the Lyric Theatre.[4]

The Sydney Theatre Company in Australia presented Burn This at the Wharf Theatre in 1990, starring Heather Mitchell and Richard Roxburgh.

The 2002 Signature Theatre Company revival directed by James Houghton at the Union Square Theatre opened on August 27 in previews, officially on September 19, and closed on December 29, 2002.[10] The cast featured Edward Norton, Catherine Keener, Ty Burrell, and Dallas Roberts. Norton won an Obie Award, and both he and the production received Lucille Lortel Award nominations.[11] Peter Sarsgaard replaced Norton, and Elisabeth Shue replaced Keener on November 20, 2002.[10][11][12]

A Broadway revival of Burn This was announced to begin in February 2017 and open on March 6, 2017 at the re-opened Hudson Theatre. Jake Gyllenhaal was to star, with direction by Michael Mayer.[13] On October 21, 2016, it was announced that the production was postponed until the 2017-18 season due to scheduling conflicts with Gyllenhaal.[14]

A revival opened on Broadway at the Hudson Theatre on March 15, 2019 in previews with the official opening on April 16. The cast featured Adam Driver as Pale, Keri Russell as Anna, David Furr as Burton and Brandon Uranowitz as Larry, with direction by Michael Mayer.[15][16][17] The production closed on July 14, 2019.[18]


Character Los Angeles Premiere
Off-Broadway / Broadway
West End
Off-Broadway Revival
Broadway Revival
Pale John Malkovich Edward Norton Adam Driver
Anna Joan Allen Juliet Stevenson Catherine Keener Keri Russell
Burton Jonathan Hogan Michael Simkins Ty Burrell David Furr
Larry Lou Liberatore Dallas Roberts Brandon Uranowitz

Notable replacements


Original Broadway Production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1987 Tony Award Best Actress in a Play Joan Allen Won
Best Featured Actor in a Play Lou Liberatore Nominated
Drama Desk Awards Outstanding Actor in a Play John Malkovich Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play Lou Liberatore Nominated
Theatre World Award Eric Roberts Won

2019 Broadway Revival[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2019 Tony Awards Best Revival of a Play Nominated
Best Actor in a Play Adam Driver Nominated
Best Featured Actor in a Play Brandon Uranowitz Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play Nominated
Drama League Award Outstanding Revival of a Broadway / Off-Broadway Play Nominated
Distinguished Performance Adam Driver Nominated


  1. ^ Jacobi, Martin J. "'The Monster Within' in Lanford Wilson's Burn This" in Lanford Wilson: A Casebook, Jackson R. Bryer (ed.) Garland Publishing, Inc.: New York, 1994, 131-149.
  2. ^ "'Burn This' 1987" Archived 2015-10-04 at the Wayback Machine Lortel Archives. Accessed September 3, 2015.
  3. ^ Gerard, Jeremy. "Limited Run for Wilson Play" The New York Times, January 9, 1987, p. C5.
  4. ^ a b "From Missouri to Manhattan" in Discovery and Invention: The Urban Plays of Lanford Wilson, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1994. ISBN 0838635482, pp. 28-29.
  5. ^ Wilson, Lanford. "Script" in Burn This: A Play, Macmillan Publishers, 1988. ISBN 0374521581, p. 102.
  6. ^ Rich, Frank. "The Dancer Upstairs" The New York Times, October 15, 1987.
  7. ^ "Burn This (Broadway, Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, 1987)" Playbill. Accessed June 10, 2022.
  8. ^ "'Burn This' listing 1987, Replacement" Internet Broadway Database, Accessed September 3, 2015.
  9. ^ "'Burn This' To Close" The New York Times, October 27, 1988.
  10. ^ a b Weinstein, Jerry and Lohrey, David. "Review. 'Burn This' 2002" CurtainUp, September 15 and December 15, 2002.
  11. ^ a b "'Burn This' 2002" Archived 2015-10-03 at the Wayback Machine Lortel Archives. Accessed September 3, 2015.
  12. ^ Jones, Kenneth and Simonson, Robert. "Burn This Re-Ignites With Shue and Sarsgaard Nov. 20" Playbill, November 20, 2002
  13. ^ Henry, Alan. "'Breaking: Jake Gyllenhaal Will Return to Broadway in 'Burn This' at The Hudson Theatre" BroadwayWorld.com, July 19, 2016
  14. ^ "Broadway Revival of Lanford Wilson's 'Burn This' Postponed Until 2017-18 Season" BroadwayWorld.com, October 21, 2016
  15. ^ Cox, Gordon (December 14, 2017). "Adam Driver to Star in 'Burn This' on Broadway". Variety. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  16. ^ Clement, Olivia. "Brandon Uranowitz and David Furr Join Burn This on Broadway at the Hudson Theatre" Playbill, November 27, 2018
  17. ^ Clement, Olivia. " Burn This, Starring Keri Russell and Adam Driver, Begins on Broadway" Playbill, March 15, 2019
  18. ^ Clement, Olivia. " Burn This Closes on Broadway July 14" Playbill, July 14, 2019

External links[edit]