Months ago, Broadway heard rumblings that the Scent of a Woman actor, bolstered by good reviews for Hughie at Circle in the Square, was hoping to take on a larger scale O'Neill work. According to Variety (Jan. 20), Pacino's choice is The Iceman Cometh, and he did four excerpted readings of the mammoth play at Los Angeles' Falcon Theatre in early January.
Paul Benedict, Pacino's Broadway co-star in Hughie, was also in the cast, as were a number of film and TV names, including Bruno Kirby (Bunny Bunny, filmdom's Good Morning Vietnam), Harry Dean Stanton (Paris Texas), Michael Jeter (Grand Hotel), Peter Onorati, Felton Perry, William Biff McGuire, John P. Connolly, Pat McNamara, Bess Meyer and Jan Triska.
Though Pacino self-staged Hughie, the Iceman readings were helmed by former Long Wharf artistic director, Arvin Brown. Under Brown, Long Wharf produced more than 200 plays, some 70 of which were staged by Brown himself. Many Long Wharf productions transferred to Broadway, most recently Chinese Coffee, with Pacino, in 1992. Two productions directed by Brown won Tony Awards as Outstanding Revival: All My Sons in 1987 and Joe Egg in 1985. Brown himself was nominated twice for Tony Awards as Outstanding Director, including his 1976 production of O'Neill's Ah! Wilderness.
O'Neill's 1939 The Iceman Cometh tells of a talkative fellow who tries to dash the "pipe dreams" of patrons in a bar, only to share, finally, his own unpleasant secret. A landmark 1950s Off-Broadway Iceman made a star of Jason Robards, and a current London production features Kevin Spacey. Other plays by O'Neill include Beyond The Horizon, Mourning Becomes Electra and Long Day's Journey Into Night.
-- By David Lefkowitz