PLAYBILL THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Dec. 8-14: Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari Are Broadway Bosom Buddies

By Robert Simonson
December 14, 2012

It took as long as Nick and Nora to open, but the Al Pacino revival of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross finally pulled back the curtain at the Schoenfeld Theatre and let the critics take a look.



Glengarry, directed by Dan Sullivan, began previews on Oct. 19, when kids were still deciding on their Halloween costumes and there was still a possibility that Mitt Romney might be our next President. It had originally been scheduled to open Nov. 11, but was delayed by several weeks to account for canceled rehearsals "as a result of Hurricane Sandy," according to producers. But some strange calculus, a storm that shut down Broadway for a couple days pushed the opening of Glengarry back a month. Go figure.

But it did finally open. And reactions were mixed. The New York Times found the production's tone on the defeated side, and too much about Pacino's grandstanding, but low-energy performance. "The production's strange combination of comic shtick and existential weariness makes it feel rather like a long-running sitcom being filmed before a live audience that knows its characters' signature tics and flourishes by heart."

The Daily News states, "It's a powerful play. But the new Broadway production just gives you a nudge… A lot of that has to do with Al Pacino, the star of the show… as Shelly Levene, a dinosaur who can't close a deal, Pacino seems small and insignificant… As the result, the play simmers when it wants to boil."

Others were more than satisfied with Pacino's work. "Al Pacino, as Shelly (The Machine) Levene, stands out as one of the best messengers of Mamet's gorgeous, vicious music," said The New Yorker. The Post, in its typically pithy way, encapsulated the situation by saying, "So it's all about Pacino, and guess what? He's good. Not awesomely, life-changingly good. Just good."

No bother. The show's selling like hotcakes, and will continue to until it closes in January.

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Shia LaBeouf

In what is surely the biggest piece of teen heartthrob news to hit Broadway since Daniel Radcliffe signed on for Equus, it was announced that Shia LaBeouf—known to successfully fight Soviet agents and Decepticons on the big screen—will star alongside Alec Baldwin in the Broadway bow of Lyle Kessler's Orphans. (I personally would consider Baldwin a more formidable foe than Megatron.)

Directed by Daniel Sullivan—who is working with his share of Mametian actors this season—the production will begin previews March 19, 2013, at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. Opening is April 7.

LaBeouf will play the oldest of two orphaned brothers who are living in a decrepit North Philadelphia row house, and kidnap a rich older man, Harold (Baldwin), who turns out to be a mobster. Casting for the role of Phillip will be announced later.

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In more casting news, George Wendt of "Cheers" fame will get to play a bartender, not a barfly, in his next project. He will portray drink slinger Joe Bell in the new Richard Greenberg adaptation of Truman Capote's novella Breakfast at Tiffany's. Bell is a character that didn't appear in the famous Audrey Hepburn film of the book, but plays a significant role in the original story.

Also cast was Cory Michael Smith in the difficult-to-fill role of narrator Fred, a character based somewhat on Capote himself. It is through Fred's eyes that we learn the story of happy-sad New York party girl Holly Golightly. The role was played by George Peppard in the 1961 movie. As previously announced, Emilia Clarke will embody Holly.

Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari, who rose to notice as the co-stars of the sitcom "Bosom Buddies," will be reunited in Nora Ephron's new Broadway play Lucky Guy.

The play, due to begin previews at the Broadhurst on March 1, 2013, stars Hanks as famous tabloid reporter Mike McAlary. Scolari will play fellow journo Michael Daly.

Also in the cast are Richard Masur as editor Jerry Nachman, Christopher McDonald as notorious New York lawyer Eddie Hayes, Peter Gerety as editor John Cotter, Michael Gaston as columnist Jim Dwyer, Deirdre Lovejoy as reporter Louise Imerman and editor Debbie Krenek, Danny Mastrogiorgio as reporter Bob Drury and Stephen Tyrone Williams as Abner Louima.

Ephron herself began as a journalist, and doubtless had some skill in knowing how to sketch practitioners of her former trade—something that escapes most playwrights, who typically portray reporters with a combination of naivete and contempt. Very likely, newspaper critics reviewing the show will have a sharp eye out for how closely she nails their profession.

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More casting! Otherworldly character actor Christopher Lloyd, whose most normal creation in 40 years of acting may have been the drug-addled Reverend Jim in "Taxi," will star as the writer-judge Azdak in Classic Stage Company's new production of Bertolt Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle. The spring 2013 production, directed by Brian Kulick, will have music by Duncan Sheik.

The Off-Broadway run begins May 2.

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Producer Cameron Mackintosh finds endless ways to recycle his signature mega-musicals of the 1980s.

Just as the new film version of Les Miserables is beginning to rack up movie award nominations, news comes that plans are afoot to mount a brand-new West End production of Miss Saigon.

Nick Allott, managing director for Cameron Mackintosh Ltd.'s London headquarters, confirmed to Playbill.com that Mackintosh would "very much like to restage the show when the right theatre becomes available and the creative team have space in their schedule."

According to a feature in the Philippine Star, preliminary auditions have already been held in Manila. Mackintosh told the paper in an interview, "I'm going to restage Miss Saigon in London as soon as I find the theatre. In fact, yes, you're right — we have started preliminary auditions. When we did the show in London 25 years ago, we spent over a year looking for the cast. I hope that in the next 18 months it would be back in London. The new version has just opened here in Japan and it's a phenomenal success. It's going to be a different production but still the same great Miss Saigon."

Biggest theatre scoop from the Philippine Star since….well, big scoop!