'Vanya' the most popular play in America


Actor Socorro Santiago on the first day of rehearsal for the DCPA’s “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” opening Oct. 10. Photo by John Moore.

Christopher Durang’s Tony-winning comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike will not only be the most produced play in the country by large, professional theatre companies over the next year, according to an annual survey just released by American Theatre Magazine. It will be staged nearly three times more than anything else.

The magazine compiled its list based on self-reporting of all productions scheduled to open between Oct. 1 of this year and Sept. 30, 2015. In all, the 404 surveyed companies are slated to produce 1,876 titles (and of those, 403 are new plays).

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike will be staged by 27 theater companies in the coming season, including the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. This black comedy and winner of the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play opens Oct. 10 and runs through Nov. 16 in the Ricketson Theatre. 

The survey does not include Shakespeare titles or holiday offerings. But for the record: A Christmas Carol will get 46 productions, and The SantaLand Diaries eight. The DCPA’s A Christmas Carol runs Nov. 28 through Dec. 28 in The Stage Theatre, and Off-Center @ The Jones is co-producing The SantaLand Diaries (again starring Matt Zambrano) with the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company from Nov. 28-Dec. 24.

The most-produced Shakespeare plays will be A Midsummer Night’s Dream (10) and Romeo and Juliet (8).

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
also made the list last year. It finished in  eighth place, with 11 productions.

“I feel very lucky, like I’ve won the lottery,” Durang told The New York Times. Thanks to the Broadway run and the advances that have come from licensing the play, he added, “the last year was the most money I have ever made.”

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is the story of two adult siblings who live together in their parents’ country house in Bucks County. Pa. Their lives are thrown into upheaval when they receive a visit from their Hollywood star sister and her boy-toy.

The play is a chaotic Chekhovian mash-up, with the story and characters all having some basis in works by the Russian master. But it stands fully on its own as a very funny look at adult sibling relationships.

DCPA Director Jenn Thompson says the play is outrageously funny because, ironically, “all great comedy comes out of some sort of great pain. Durang just goes to dizzying heights with it.”

To see our report from the first day of Vanya rehearsals, click here.

Coming in seventh on the list with seven professional stagings was The Whipping Man by Matthew Lopez. That uncommon Civil War story was staged locally by the Curious Theatre Company, and the production went on to win eight Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Awards. Last week, Lopez began a six-month residency as the DCPA’s first-ever Playwriting Fellow.

This marks the third straight year Lopez has made the Top 10 list.


  • Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang: 27
  • Outside Mullingar by John Patrick Shanley: 10
  • Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon: 8
  • Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz: 8
  • Around the World in 80 Days adapted from the novel by Jules Verne: 7
  • Peter and the Starcatcher, adapted by Rick Elice from Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson: 7
  • The Whipping Man by Matthew Lopez: 7
  • Tribes by Nina Raine: 7
  • 4000 Miles by Amy Herzog: 6
  • Into the Woods, book by James Lapine, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim: 6
  • Venus in Fur by David Ives: 6


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