George Morfogen's first co-star in the Off-Broadway production of Uncle Bob was queer as folk, but his next one will be from outer space. On May 20, Joseph Gordon-Levitt of the sitcom "3rd Rock From the Sun" will take over the role of Josh in Austin Pendleton's play, replacing the departing Gale Harold of Showtime's controversial series, "Queer as Folk." Uncle Bob opened April 23 at Off-Broadway's Soho Playhouse. Previews began April 11.
Morforgen was the original Uncle Bob when the drama premiered in New York City in 1995 (in fact, the part was written for him). This will mark the first time he has played the role since then; in subsequent productions across the nation, Pendleton himself often played the part.
The production, presented by the Rebellion Theatre Company, is directed by Courtney Moorhead.
A company called Rebellion would seem the right troupe to present the provocative Uncle Bob. The taut, two-person drama was a bit of a succes de scandale when the Mint Theatre first produced it in Manhattan in early 1995. The title character is a fiercely intelligent and highly opinionated wash-out who now lives in a small Greenwich Village basement flat on the charity of his brother. Bob's only real connection to his family is with Josh, his jaded, slacker nephew. Between Bob's status as a failed former prodigy now suffering from perhaps willfully contracted AIDS and Josh's propensity to crash new cars and otherwise squander his potential, the two are perfect kindred spirits. Their mutual affection for each other, however, goes a little too far by play's end.
Pendleton is best known as an actor, with credits like The Diary of Anne Frank, Fiddler on the Roof and The Last Sweet Days of Isaac under his belt. He recently essayed the title role in Richard II at the Frog and Peach company in NYC. He also has directed dozens of productions, including Say Goodnight, Gracie, The Runner Stumbles and The Little Foxes on Broadway. The New York Post reports (April 23) that Pendleton recently had polyps removed from his vocal cords and has been communicating with the Uncle Bob cast mainly by hand-written notes. Uncle Bob is Pendleton's second play. Before it, he wrote Booth, about the Booth theatrical family. His most recent work is Orson's Shadow, which has received productions at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, the Williamstown Theatre Festival and the Westport Country Playhouse, and will be staged in New York this fall. After Uncle Bob played the Mint, it was produced at Steppenwolf, with Pendleton playing the title role.
—By Robert Simonson and David Lefkowitz