Welles's minimal stage design was possibly influenced by his long-term friend, Michael Macliammoir, and what he termed "anti-naturalist theater". The stage was bare, the actors appeared in contemporary street clothes, and the props were minimal. For example, brooms were used for oars, and a stick was used for a telescope. The actors provided the action, and the audience's imagination provided the ocean, costumes, and the whale.
In The Fabulous Orson Welles, by Peter Noble, cameraman Hilton Craig reveals, "it was by no means merely a photographed stage-play. On the contrary, it was shot largely in close-ups and looked very impressive on near-completion."
The cast grudgingly performs the play, improvising scenery from items lying around, and gradually get more into character as the play develops.
There is speculation that the film Moby Dick Rehearsed was broadcast on BBC Television in 1955.
The Moby Dick Rehearsed film is not to be confused with a later project wherein Welles filmed a 22 minute version of various scenes from the play, playing all the parts himself.
In 1962, a production was mounted on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre starring Rod Steiger as "The Actor Manager/Father Mapple/Captain Ahab" and Roy Poole as "The Serious Actor/Starbuck" and directed by Douglas Campbell. The production ran for only thirteen performances (November 28th - December 8th, 1962).
|Gordon Jackson||A Young Actor/Ishmael|
|Christopher Lee||A Stage Manager/Flask|
|Patrick McGoohan||A Serious Actor/Starbuck|
|Wensley Pithey||A Middle-Aged Actor/Stubb|
|Joan Plowright||A Young Actress/Pip|
|Orson Welles||An Actor Manager/Father Mapple/Ahab|
|Kenneth Williams||A Very Serious Actor/Elijah and others|