PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: Breakfast at Tiffany's; Tru's Blue Holly, "Mean Reds" and All

By Harry Haun
21 Mar 2013

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Shrewdly, director Mathias has surrounded his two newcomers with an armada of known and proven talents. Easily, the most familiar face is the "Cheers"-y one of George Wendt, now working the other side of the bar as bartender Joe Bell. "He's sort of a father figure and confidante to Fred and Holly," Wendt explained, "and I suspect he's sort of in love with Holly as well. Take a number on that one!"

He's sure he must have done a bartender before but can't remember where or when. He was Santa the last time he showed his distinctive mug on Broadway (in Elf).

The excellent British actress, Suzanne Bertish, can be found here as Madame Spanella, a wild-haired, opera-singing, roller-skating neighbor who's not the party animal Holly is and complains about it operatically. The wig was not her idea. "It was the wig designer (David Brian Brown), and I said, 'I need all the help I can get with this part so let's have some mad hair' — and he did. That's the truth, by the way.

"What's great about working in New York, for me, is the variety one gets to play. A few months ago I was performing in prisons for The Public TheaterRichard III — and I was playing mad Queen Margaret. So it's from Shakespeare in prison to Capote on Broadway. We went to Rikers Island, with Ron Cephus-Jones as Richard. It was very, very moving. This man came up to me after the performance and said, 'You gave me vitamins for the soul.' He had not ever seen Shakespeare before."

Bertish also plays a stern editor who calls "Fred" on the carpet and demands, "What is your hostility toward the semi-colon?" The character is a Greenberg invention.

George Wendt
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Another character wholly created for the play is a closeted gay editor that "Fred" is pitching his stories to. "I based the performance on several editors I know," said John Rothman, who is counting his wife, at present editor-in-chief at Workman Publishing. "Holly encourages 'Fred' to enclose his picture to me, and I take him to lunch at 21.' I've done a lot of research for this part at 21 and took our star Cory to the bar there. We had a lovely evening, and I enjoyed re-discovering 21."

Tony Torn, who plays the millionaire Holly has set her cap and trap for, said that he was delighted to be making his Broadway debut at the Cort where his mother triumphed in The Rainmaker and Clothes for a Summer Hotel. She was Geraldine Page, whose Capote connection ("A Christmas Memory") earned her an Emmy Award. "I was able to track down a copy of it because it's not commercially available," said Torn, "and that was my gift to the whole cast."

The balding, buoyant Eddie Korbich essays three roles during the show and sets a hirsute record doing it, via a white wig, a dark red toupee and a scholarly goatee. "That's what I love doing," he confessed. "I love doing all different parts and being different every single time I come on. It's a blast! During A Christmas Story, I had two busloads from my hometown in Pennsylvania come, and they said, 'It was like "Where's Waldo?" 'There he is.' No, there he is. 'No, there he is.' I'm loving it."