The 1977 play by Bernard Pomerance is based on Joseph Merrick, a 19th century “human curiosity” who suffered from neurofibromatosis, a disfiguring disease that produces large external growths on the face and body.
He was born in 1862 and lived a wretched life mostly performing in freak shows until a wave of reform swept Victorian England, which generated more sympathy for people with deformities.
A number of Britain’s well-to-do took up Merrick’s cause and befriended him. He even met the royalty. Alexandra, Princess of Wales visited with him and sent him Christmas cards until he died at 27 in 1892.
The play’s revival, stars Cooper, Patricia Clarkson and Alessandro Nivola.
Cooper played Merrick in a revival at the 2012 Williamstown Theatre Festival and is reprising the role, according to Playbill.
The play will open at the Booth Theatre, Dec. 7 and run for 13 weeks, through Feb. 15. Scott Ellis, who directed Cooper in the Williamstown production, will helm the Broadway play.
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