An Eye-Witness Account of Scarlett Johansson's Emergence As a Stage Animal

PlayBlog   An Eye-Witness Account of Scarlett Johansson's Emergence As a Stage Animal
The only person ever to win a Tony and a Pulitzer Prize (for writing The Shadow Box) and a Theatre World Award (for performing The Cherry Orchard) — Michael Cristofer — mounted New World Stages June 8 to pass the Theatre World Award torch to the co-star who made her Broadway debut opposite him and Liev Schreiber in A View From the Bridge, Scarlett Johansson.

“A lot has been said about the difference between screen acting and stage acting, but I’m not sure there is a difference,” he began rather academically. “I think it comes from the same place, the same seed. I think it’s the same thing — a sense of truth, a kind of instinct, whatever it is — and, for an actor, it’s either there or it’s not.”

It was there in Johansson at the start of rehearsals, he recalled. “If you got close enough. like a camera, you could see it, and it was really good — right from Day One.

“But what I saw happen over the course of the rehearsals and then the previews and the performance — I saw that thing inside her grow. It was always there in her eyes, but after a while you could see it in her face. You could then hear it in her voice. Then I saw it move down her arms, and her hands came alive — and other wonderful parts of her body — right down to her toes. Her feet were working. What started in rehearsal as a beautifully wrought character that maybe only a camera could see ended up being something that was extraordinary and hitting the back wall of the theatre every night. I realized what I was watching was a real theatre animal being born, and it was very exciting to me — a privilege . . . a gift to be able to witness that.”

Crimson-faced Scarlett took to the stage, reeling from the kind words, and, in the course of her thank you, did a deep bow to Cristofer: “We had one scene together — I wish we’d had more — but, believe it or not, I felt you every night,” she remembered with a warm smile. “Actually, sometimes I could see you off in the wings. I would have thought that would be distracting, but it was empowering to me, knowing that you were there. I could feel you over there, and thank you for watching me and helping me and telling me to look up so everyone could see my face.”

— Harry Haun

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