PHOTO SPECIAL: Act One Stars Share Their First Broadway Experiences
By Matthew Blank
The life of Broadway playwright, director and lyricist Moss Hart has arrived on the stage in the form of the new Broadway play Act One, adapted and directed by James Lapine. In a tip of the hat to the theatrical memoir, cast members share their earliest Broadway memories.
Lapine (Into the Woods, Passion, Sunday in the Park With George) directs his stage adaptation of Hart's 1954 memoir "Act One," chronicling the life of the famed playwright-director from his poor Bronx beginnings to becoming Broadway royalty. It officially opens April 17 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater.
Santino Fontana (Cinderella, Billy Elliot), Tony Shalhoub (Golden Boy, Lend Me a Tenor) and young actor Matthew Schechter (Newsies) inhabit Hart at different stages of his life.
They are joined by two-time Tony Award winner Andrea Martin (Pippin, My Favorite Year), Bob Ari (Frost/Nixon, The Constant Wife), Bill Army (Relatively Speaking), Will Brill (Tribes), Laurel Casillo (Off-Broadway's Bryan and Kim), Tony Award winner Chuck Cooper (The Life), Steven Kaplan (Off-Broadway's Book Club), Will LeBow (The Merchant of Venice at A.R.T.), Mimi Lieber (I'm Not Rappaport), Charlotte Maier (The Columnist), Noah Marlowe (Mary Poppins), Greg McFadden (The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial), Deborah Offner (LCT's Everett Beekin), Lance Roberts (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), Matthew Saldivar (Peter and the Starcatcher), Matthew Schechter (Newsies), Jonathan Spivey (Richard III), Wendy Rich Stetson (A Free Man of Color), Bob Stillman (Dirty Blonde) and Amy Warren (August: Osage County).
Here’s how LCT bills the work: “Act One, James Lapine’s new play from the classic autobiography by Moss Hart, deemed one of the finest books about 20th-century American theatre, eloquently chronicles the playwright/director’s impoverished childhood and his determined struggle to escape poverty and forge a career in the theatre. A path which led to his collaboration with George S. Kaufman and their first great success, Once In A Lifetime.”
Act One has sets by Beowulf Boritt, costumes by Jane Greenwood, lighting by Ken Billington, sound by Dan Moses Schreier and original music by Louis Rosen.
Fontana, who recently starred as the Prince in Broadway’s Cinderella, was previously seen Off-Broadway in The Sons of the Prophet and on Broadway in The Importance of Being Earnest, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Billy Elliot and Sunday in the Park with George.
Shalhoub returns to Lincoln Center Theater after appearing last year in LCT’s critically acclaimed production of Clifford Odets’ Golden Boy. His Broadway credits include Lend Me A Tenor, Conversations With My Father (Tony nomination), The Heidi Chronicles and the female version of The Odd Couple. He has been seen Off-Broadway in The Scene, Waiting for Godot, Rameau’s Nephew and Zero Positive.
Lapine returns to LCT, where he wrote the book for the musical A New Brain (with music and lyrics by William Finn) and directed his play Twelve Dreams. Director of the HBO documentary “Six By Sondheim,” he collaborated with Stephen Sondheim as author and director on the musicals Sunday in the Park with George (Pulitzer Prize), Into the Woods, Passion (Tony Award) and the multi-media revue Sondheim on Sondheim.
Throughout his career, Hart was recognized as an accomplished playwright, screenwriter, lyricist and director. With George S. Kaufman he penned "The Man Who Came to Dinner" and "You Can't Take It With You," as well as the revues As Thousands Cheer (scored by Irving Berlin) and I'd Rather Be Right (scored by Richard Rodgers). He penned the book for Lady in the Dark and earned the Tony Award for directing the original Broadway production of My Fair Lady. Hart also penned the screenplay for "A Star Is Born."
Tickets, priced $77-$137, are available via telecharge.com or by visiting lct.org. A limited number of tickets priced $32 are available at every performance through LincTix, LCT’s program for 21-35 year olds. For information and to enroll, visit LincTix.org.
The Vivian Beaumont Theater is located at 150 West 65 Street.
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