A Once and Future Olivier?

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ONSTAGE: BROADWAY -- May 1996

ONSTAGE: BROADWAY -- May 1996 THE ONCE AND FUTURE OLIVIER : The Oberon reigning over the Royal Shakespeare Company's lavish rendition of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Alex Jennings, has been called with some justification "the new Olivier." For one thing, he has two awards by that name. The first came in 1988 for playing Gloumov in Too Clever by Half; the second putting him one up on his Titania, Lindsay (Les Liaisons Dangereuses) Duncan, and his Bottom, Desmond (The Comedy of Errors) Barrit just arrived for his title performance in Peer Gynt last season. More importantly (from a passing-of-the-torch standpoint), Jennings's first film was Olivier's last: the late Derek Jarman's War Requiem. Jennings's next film will be the screen Dream that director Adrian Noble filmed before bringing the RSC over to do it on the company's first "colonial" tour in eight years.

THE GAG'S ALL HERE: "They are already calling it Laughter on the Forum Floor," quipped Lewis J. Stadlen early on into rehearsals for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, referring to the fact that he and Nathan Lane and Mark Linn-Baker (alumnae all of Neil Simon's Laughter on the 23rd Floor) and Ernie Sabella (who played Lane's role on the road and was warthog to Lane's meerkat in The Lion King) now reside in ancient Rome in the third Broadway edition of the Stephen Sondheim-Burt Shevelove-Larry Gelbart musical antic. Stadlen has the role (Senex) that won David Burns the Tony in 1963, Linn-Baker has the role (Hysterium) that won Larry Blyden the Tony in 1972, and, of course, Lane has the role (Pseudolus) that won Zero Mostel and Phil Silvers the Tony both of those years. Like Medea, Pseudolus has never been done on Broadway without winning the Tony for its performer. Even if Lane weren't long overdue a Tony, even if his stardom hadn't been confirmed by the box-office success of The Birdcage flick, all he'd have to do would be to bunt to get honored. Alas, happily, the concept of bunting is unknown to
him. Indeed: "Comedy Tonight!"

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