On the Red Carpet: The Appropriate Cast on How 'Amazing' It Is to Have Sarah Paulson Yell at Them On Stage | Playbill

Opening Night On the Red Carpet: The Appropriate Cast on How 'Amazing' It Is to Have Sarah Paulson Yell at Them On Stage

Plus, the stars came out to the red carpet, including Jennifer Lawrence, Dakota Fanning, Rose Byne, and Zachary Quinto.

Cast of Appropriate Michaelah Reynolds

How does Sarah Paulson feel on the opening night of Appropriate? "I want a cocktail!" she exclaims to Playbill on the red carpet of the show's opening on Broadway December 18. Indeed, she's earned it. She's been a champion of the play by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and has been attached to do it since 2021. To see it get to Broadway has been a joy, especially since Paulson's last stage credit was Talley's Folley by Lanford Wilson in 2013.

"How did I get so lucky to be doing the work of this real, living genius," Paulson remarked rhetorically, adding, "I've done some plays by some real geniuses, but who are no longer living. But to have a person in the room who can answer your questions—and who can illuminate something within their mind, and to feel that you are helping to bring that to life—is a very, very special, special thing to be part of."

Appropriate centers on the Lafayette family. Paulson plays Toni, the eldest of three siblings who all gather at their family plantation home in Arkansas to go over their deceased father's belongings. While cleaning the house, they come across some troubling relics that force them to confront their family's past. Read the reviews of the play here.

"It's feeling surreal," Jacobs-Jenkins marvels, reflecting on how it feels to see this new version of Appropriate—which is finally on Broadway after premiering regionally in 2013, "It's odd to have this thing you did when you were, like, 28 come back to you in this way and just be so grown up and blowed up."

Jacobs-Jenkins was inspired by other quintessential American family dramas like August: Osage County and Long Day's Journey Into Night when writing Appropriate, saying: "What we as Americans do best are musicals and family dramas. And I just felt like, why not try my hand at it?" So in that vein, Playbill asked the cast of the show what kind of activities are appropriate to take your family to? Is a bar crawl family appropriate? Contact sports? Seeing the play Appropriate? Find out their answers below and read on for more from the show's starry red carpet.

Like many classic family dramas, the family at the center of Appropriate is, to put it mildly, dysfunctional. All three siblings have their own issues that would overwhelm a therapist. For Corey Stoll, who plays Bo (the middle sibling who thinks throwing money at a problem is the same as solving it), the characters in the show can be seen as classic archetypes. "There's the screw-up brother. There's the one who takes care of everything. There's the problematic sister. [Branden] never lets the audience sit in that for too long, and he's always contradicting your expectations," explains Stoll. "All these characters are difficult in their own way. But they're all worthy of love."

The show's director Lila Neugebauer has noticed audience members empathizing with the characters onstage, even relating to them. To her, that's part of the brilliance of the work, that the audience can see themselves in these difficult people. "I do think there is an invitation in this play to to look at the parts of ourselves that we may not be most comfortable with," she says, adding that she's noticed on the part of the audience "a willingness to look at the things we might not want to talk about. I think there is, for a lot of people, recognition."

There's also, for a lot of audience members, laughter. At the show, gasps could be heard but what was also common was laughter, even hollers. Jacobs-Jenkins admits he didn't set out to make the play funny, "I'm writing the most dry [lines], and everyone's cackling," he remarks, also dryly. "There's different kinds of laughter I hear in the audience. There's a lot of gut busting...but there's a lot of people who laugh because of anxiety or disbelief. That's just one of the amazing things about the theatre: We're activated in this way, we can't control it. There's something inside of us that needs to get out." Which is an apt way to describe the characters in the show, who are bursting at the seams throughout the show, trying to release their emotions, and their demons.

READ: 'Race Is a Hallucination': Sarah Paulson and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins on Appropriate

That's what makes Appropriate such a standout play, according to the cast—the characters, and their pathos, are not quite what you expected when you see them. That's especially apt for Elle Fanning's character. The screen actor, known for The Great on Hulu, is making her Broadway debut with Appropriate. She was appropriately giddy with excitement on the red carpet (even after a four-show weekend and doing a show on Monday night). "I'm so energized. I'm so awake right now!" she exclaims, giggling. "My family's all here to see it. They haven't seen it yet." (Fanning's sister, Dakota, was indeed in attendance.)

Dakota Fanning and Elle Fanning Michaelah Reynolds

In the show, Fanning plays River, who is the partner of the youngest Lafayette son, Frank. River initially comes off as way too young for Frank, though what Fanning loves about the character is more than what she seems. "She's easy to write off in the beginning," Fanning admits. "But the things that she's actually saying and her beliefs are actually the most level-headed of the group." River encourages the characters to release the trauma that's holding them back.

Working with Paulson, who Fanning is friends with in real life, is a particularly special joy for the screen star. Toni continually throws cruel barbs at River throughout the play. "Sarah and I are such good friends," says Fanning. "And so it's hard for me not laugh. I love when she turns to me and she's like, 'What is this little girl still doing here?'"

In the show, no one is perhaps more yelled-at by Toni than Frank, played by Michael Esper. Frank is the problem child of the family, stuck in a state of arrested development. Though Esper assures Playbill that "it's amazing" to be yelled at by Paulson, saying with a smile on his face: "Everybody should try it. It's incredible." 

Playbill did ask multiple actors what was it like to be screamed at by Paulson, because in the show every adult actor gets an explosive moment with her character. All of them responded with enthusiasm, thoroughly enjoying rising to the challenge. Stoll remarked, "It is like going to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory—you know, going into a wind tunnel. It's a joy." 

Graham Campbell, who plays Toni's son Rhys, puts it more colorfully: "I worry about earthquakes and things when she's screaming. But it's also amazing because she's such an incredible human being, and a kind, patient, thoughtful person. So to be able to see her unleash that other side of her as Toni is sort of miraculous."

But it's not just Paulson. Jacobs-Jenkins calls the entire cast "theatre beast." Esper says to be in this company of actors has been an honor: "I really wish everybody could know what it's like to be on stage with Sarah Paulson, Natalie Gold, and everybody who's fucking incredible show. It is unbelievable."

Campbell agrees with the beast analogy: "It makes you feel like you have to train to be a beast," the actor exclaims. "There's so much to learn from these people, as people and actors. It's exciting to show up to work, and have to rise to that beastliness." He then adds, with a hint of fanboy energy, "There's no greater beast than Mr. Corey Stoll. To try to out-beast Corey is almost impossible." He does well, since Campbell also provided the fight choreography for the show.

Company of Appropriate Michaelah Reynolds

Suffice it to say, it was clear speaking to this cast that although they play some ugly people onstage, and have to say some nasty things to each other, off stage there is a love and camaraderie. "We've bonded, we feel protective of each other and look out for each other on stage," says Natalie Gold, who plays Rachel, Bo's wife who tries to be a peacekeeper. "Everybody is just a gorgeous human. And then to go out and be awful to each other on stage—it's all hilarious and fun and beautiful." 

Gorgeous and awful are a good way to describe any family. For Alyssa Emily Marvin, who is still a teenager and is one of the youngest members of the cast (she plays Bo and Rachel's daughter, Cassidy), it's not surprising that the family in Appropriate is reminding audience members of their own family. 

"They're not perfect in any way," she says, with a wisdom that is reminiscent of her character Cassidy, who wants to be treated like an adult even though she's 13. "They're strained at times. But there's also a lot of love underneath all of that. Which I think is kind of universal for all families. You could fight, you could have moments of unrest, but you will always return to square one, which is the love."

Below, see photos from Appropriate's opening night, including a star-filled red carpet which included Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence, Dakota Fanning, Morgan Spector, Rose Byne, and Zachary Quinto

Photos: Appropriate Opening Night on Broadway

The Broadway run of Appropriate features scenic design by dots, costume design by Dede Ayite, lighting design by Jane Cox, and sound design by Will Pickens and Bray Poor. The production's fight director is Unkledave's Fight House, the vocal coach is Kate Wilson, the production stage manager is Barclay Stiff, and the stage manager is Kelly Levy. Casting is by Jim Carnahan and Alexandre Bleau. It is being produced by Second Stage Theatre at their Helen Hayes Theater.

Today’s Most Popular News:

Blocking belongs
on the stage,
not on websites.

Our website is made possible by
displaying online advertisements to our visitors.

Please consider supporting us by
whitelisting playbill.com with your ad blocker.
Thank you!