He will play Thomas More in Robert Bolt's historical drama — the role made famous by the recently deceased Paul Scofield. (Langella also stars in the film of Frost/Nixon, in theatres Dec. 5. So expect a lot of feature articles about Frank this holiday season.)
Also confirmed this week were plans for the Broadway revival of another classic drama typically driven by the performance of a major older actor: Arthur Miller's 1947 All My Sons. John Lithgow will star as Joe Keller, a man who has been hiding the fact that he knowingly sold defective airplane parts to the Army, causing the deaths of 21 men. Dianne Wiest, musical theatre star Patrick Wilson and film actress and tabloid staple Katie Holmes also star.
Simon McBurney, the British director who is the founder and artistic director of Complicite, will pilot the play. McBurney received 1998 Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations for his direction of The Chairs.
Up Boston way, Harvard University and the American Repertory Theatre announced that Diane Paulus has been appointed the new artistic director of the Cambridge, MA, theatre company. Paulus will succeed Robert Woodruff, the experimental and sometimes controversial artist who was artistic director from 2002 to 2007. She will begin her work in the fall, planning the 2009-2010 season. In New York, Paulus first drew attention as the director of The Donkey Show, an unusual disco version of A Midsummer Night's Dream which ran for years in a downtown Manhattan club. She also directed Eli's Coming, a dramatic treatment of the songs of Laura Nyro. Often associated with projects that incorporate contemporary pop music, this summer she's staging the 40th anniversary production of Hair in Central Park.
In service to the idea that everyone who was involved in the 2007-08 New York theatre season deserves a prize of some kind, more awards were handed out this week.
The annual Village Voice Obie Awards, the vintage distressed-leather jacket of the theatre trophy world, were presented May 19 at Webster Hall in Manhattan. Downtown theatre's Couple of Cool, the married Elizabeth Marvel and Bill Camp, co-hosted the ceremony.
Among the winners were David Cromer and Joel Hatch, director and star of The Adding Machine; the entire ensemble of Passing Strange, which also won for Best New Theatre Piece (and which began Off-Broadway); Veanne Cox and Sean McNall, for Sustained Excellence of Performance; Ben Katchor, John Findlay, Jeff Sugg and Russell H. Champa for the design of The Slug Bearers of Kayrol Island; and Jane Greenwood for Sustained Excellence of Costume Design.
Greenwood has been nominated for a Tony about umpteen times and never won. So, Jane, here's something to put in the trophy case, finally.
Also dolled out this past week were the Drama Desk Awards. Tracy Letts' August: Osage County and Stew and Heidi Rodewald's Passing Strange were named, respectively, Outstanding Play and Outstanding Musical. The revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific won five awards, the most of any production of the season.
Passing Strange has been racking up the honors. In addition to the Drama Desk and Obie Awards, it has won the New York Drama Critics Circle prize for best musical. This all runs fairly counter the conventional wisdom that In the Heights is the show to beat come Tony night. We shall see.