PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Oct. 27-Nov. 2: A New Start

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Oct. 27-Nov. 2: A New Start
 
The League of American Theatres and Producers and Local One, the stagehands union, after not speaking to each other for a few weeks, agreed to return to the negotiating table Nov. 7.
Kevin Kline is Cyrano de Bergerac.
Kevin Kline is Cyrano de Bergerac. Photo by Carol Rosegg

The cast of upcoming discussions will include Tom Short, the head of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Local One's parent union, and, to some minds, the only guy who can make something finally happen. Short's the man who has to give the go-ahead before Local One can strike, and so far he hasn't done that.

Negotiations are also scheduled for Nov. 8 and 9. Union officials have indicated in the past that they won't work without an agreement past the end of the month. That gives both sides three weeks to figure something out. Hey, if nothing is settled by Nov. 22, maybe the producers and stagehands could all have Thanksgiving dinner together! I'll bring the cranberry sauce.

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We're midway through fall now, and the show openings are coming daily.

Kevin Kline, playing Broadway's first Cyrano de Bergerac in more than 20 years, opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre Nov. 1, in a production directed by David Leveaux. Some critics found much to savor in Kline's masterly, if understated approach to the swashbuckling iconoclastic hero, while others wondered where the play's passion had gone. Off-Broadway, The Wooster Group, New York's most notable and long-lived avant-garde troupe, got a rare big-time opening when its dramatic reinterpretation of Shakespeare's Hamlet officially opened at the Public Theater Oct. 31. In this production, the players attempted to re-create, through their usual technical wizardry and metaphysical attitude, the famous 1964 Broadway Hamlet of Richard Burton, which was projected on the back wall as the cast aped and shadowed the production downstage. Critics were not as wowed as they have been in the past by Wooster outings, finding the show more inventive than inspired, but, as always, reviewers were to a large extent slayed by the company's consummate artistry.

Elsewhere Off-Broadway, rising playwright Adam Bock had his biggest opening to date as The Receptionist was unveiled at Manhattan Theatre Club. Reviewers found the tale of an office that isn't what it seems intriguing and teasing, if somewhat slight and insubstantial. The cast, headed by Jayne Houdyshell, was roundly praised. And Jim Knable's new play Spain, about an abandoned wife with a rich fantasy life (a conquistador visits her), opened at MCC Theatre, and was found to be a bit too airily fanciful to be of much note.

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Finally, Robert Goulet, one of Broadway's all-time great matinee idols, died Oct. 30 while awaiting a lung transplant. He was 73. Goulet famously became a star playing the suave, vainglorious Sir Lancelot in the Broadway musical Camelot. With his handsome face, slick black hair and pencil moustache, Goulet was once described as a walking 8 x 10. But he was an 8 x 10 the public liked, and through talent, sheer industry and heaps of good will, he parlayed Lancelot into a four-decade career on the stage, screen and concert hall. He was a great road attraction in his last decade or so — one of the last star-level talents of that hard-working breed. Often, he toured in Camelot, but as King Arthur, not Lancelot. That's called a promotion.

Robert Goulet
Robert Goulet Photo by Aubrey Reuben
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