PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: Of Mice and Men — See What the Boys in the Bunkhouse Will Have

By Harry Haun
17 Apr 2014

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Shapiro, in turn, gave credit to the Crayolas she painted with. "They're a special group of people. I'd have to say that anyway, but it happens to be true. They worked hard."

That extra Jim in the cast is Jim Parrack, a tall drink of water from Allen, TX, who towers over everybody and plays the most level-headed, even-handed of the bunkhouse brigade. "Being a good man," he discovered, "has a lot more to do with what you do than how you are." His Slim is as the straightest-shooter of the lot.

True to form, he doesn't take his Broadway bow lightly. "I feel very honored," he insisted. "Honest to God, I do. I didn't realize what an honor it would be 'til I did it."

Another newbie among the hired hands — James McMenamin — echoed the same sentimental sentiments. "It feels amazing. I've been acting professionally for 14 years, and to finally get here really feels like an honor. There are a million kids out there who want to do this, and to get the opportunity is a very, very special thing.

"I'm a huge Steinbeck fan," McMenamin continued. "I think he may be the greatest American writer who ever lived, and it's really just a privilege to be a part of this play. It's a phenomenal thing to be a part of. I think it's a beautiful production."

Joel Marsh Garland, who played the ranch hand who put the dog down, said he was not packing heat at the Plaza party. "I have a small Swiss Army knife in my pocket," he allowed, "but I don't pack anything dangerous. There's no 1930s weaponry." Of course, in real life, he's an animal lover. "I have a cat. We used to own a dog, but it's a small apartment now so I don't think it's humane to own a dog with no space."

The hair-trigger troublemaker of the group is The Boss' pint-sized bully of a son, Curley, who's seriously out of sorts because he can't keep his new bride in her own backyard and not in the bunkhouse. He's easy to hate, and Alex Morf spares us nothing. "I've known people like him before, and I understand what it's like to be uncomfortable, and I think Curley's uncomfortable. It always comes out as rage."

As the lone female on the premises — a lonely one at that, let the record show, and conspicuously unloved — Leighton Meester vamps around the stage with the open heart of a wannabe adulteress. Her conversation with Lennie in the barn is a case of two ships passing unnoticed in the night, both spilling their dreams out and neither noticing. "That scene really took time," Meester recalled. "I think eye contact was what was important the first few weeks of rehearsal, just walking in with each other and understanding why one moment leads to the next. Once we were able to disconnect — the eye contact and unlock that — it just flowed, and it made sense."