PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Sept. 23-29: Some Americans Abroad

ICYMI   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Sept. 23-29: Some Americans Abroad Frank Langella has been a steady presence on Broadway for some time, but it took a trip to London for Americans to remind themselves that he was one of the stage's greatest actors. His turn as Tricky Dick in the Donmar Warehouse hit Frost/Nixon has earned him the kind of praise that he has perhaps not experienced since he played that other slippery character, Dracula, back in 1977.
Frank Langella
Frank Langella Photo by Hugo Glendinning

The set-up for the Peter Morgan play is simple: a dramatization of the famous series of interviews between David Frost and Richard Nixon, in which the journalist attempted to jumpstart his career and the politician tried to rehabilitate his tarnished reputation. Reviews were exultant, turning the show into the most talked-about production in London.

Since Nixon remains a topic of some interest on these shores, producers pounced on the idea of a New York transfer. No details have been announced, but the Post is placing the show in a Shubert Theatre this coming spring. Langella has two Featured Actor Tony Awards to his name, but has never bagged the Best Actor trophy. Should the transfer happen, he would be hard to beat.

Also attracting attention this week was Kevin Spacey in the new Old Vic revival of O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten. Spacey's hard luck as that theatre artistic head seems to have come to an end, at least temporarily, with this production and producers Ben Sprecher and Elliot Martin are poised to bring the staging over if Spacey and co-star Eve Best's schedules permit. Spacey did well a few years back with another O'Neill, The Iceman Cometh . It's likely he'd repeat that success this time around.

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In other London news, Wicked opened Sept. 27 and was liked a mite more by London critics than it was by their Broadway brethren. No word yet on whether those reviews will translate to box office gold. But if the New York box office can thrive on the strength of less-than-great notices, one would think… ***

On Broadway, Twyla Tharp began previews of her Bob Dylan musical The Times They Are A-Changin' on Sept. 25 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. And critics were pleasantly amused by Jay Johnson's one-man show about and yin and yang of ventriloquism, The Two and Only!, which opened Sept. 28. Or maybe they were just amused by the novelty of a ventriloquist act actually being on Broadway. Hard to tell.

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Finally, the theatre community received a shock the morning of Sept. 24 when word spread that Patrick Quinn, the newly appointed executive director of the Actors' Equity Association, had died suddenly of a heart attack at his country home. The 55-year-old actor was widely liked and welcomed as a successor to the union's top man, Alan Eisenberg. He was to have assumed his post in less than two weeks, on Oct. 5. The job was the culmination of nearly 30 years of service to Equity. A funeral mass was due to be held on Sept. 29 in Quinn's hometown of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and participants predicted high out-of-town attendance. For one day, Doylestown will look a lot like Broadway.

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