Theatregoer's Notebook

Theatregoer's Notebook Here's to Debra Monk

Here's to Debra Monk

In the two years since she won a Tony Award for playing a quick-witted lumber heiress in Lanford Wilson's "Redwood Curtain," Debra Monk has leaped to the top of every casting director's wish list. She can be tough or touching--but always funny--in roles as varied as a small-town schoolteacher in "Picnic," a Manhattan psychiatrist in Woody Allen's portion of "Death Defying Acts," and now Joanne, leader of "the ladies who lunch," in the Roundabout Theatre Company's current revival of Stephen Sondheim's "Company," directed by Scott Ellis.

"Joanne is caustic and dismissive, but inside she's scared and probably doesn't feel great about herself," says Monk, a friendly woman who saves her sharp comic timing for the stage. Monk first worked with Sondheim when she played Sara Jane Moore in "Assassins" and calls the composer "tremendously supportive and helpful." She adds, "The show ['Company'] still seems very fresh in the way it talks about marriage and relationships. And the music is fabulous."

Though Monk helped write and put together two hit musical revues, "Pump Boys and Dinettes" and "Oil City Symphony," she laughingly admits, "This is the most singing and dancing I've ever done. The opening number is 25 pages long! [Choreographer] Rob Marshall has us doing soft shoe, hats and canes, a kick line--we're Rob Marshall dancers, honey!"

  HEY JUDE

As Jude Law recently found out, it's possible to get by on four hours of sleep a night if the reward is a double helping of challenging work. Fresh from his Tony-nominated performance as the son who's a bit too attached to Mom (Kathleen Turner) in "Indiscretions," Law spent much of the summer as Claire Danes's boyfriend in the movie "I Love You, I Love You Not."

"When you're 22 and a wonderful opportunity arises, you have to grab it," says Law, adding, "This city feeds you with creative energy. Everybody in New York is having fun, but they're also driven. It felt great to be working to my extreme. I've been eating a lot of pasta and taking a lot of Vitamin B-12."

Law grew up in southeast London and left school at 17 when a TV talent scout spotted him in a performance at the National Youth Music Theatre. "Acting is all I ever wanted to do. I always loved telling stories and going to the theatre and the cinema. I've written a screenplay, and I'd like to concentrate on film after this."

As the only member of the original London cast of "Indiscretions" to come to Broadway, Law resisted the urge to give the other actors advice on how the play (originally titled "Les Parents Terribles") had worked before. "They brought brilliant new ideas, and I just adapted those to what I'd already done. It felt like I'd done all this research, almost like I'd had a vivid dream of the part, and suddenly there I was doing it on Broadway. It's been terribly exciting."

-- By Kathy Henderson