STAGE TO SCREENS: A Chat with Gale Harold Plus Upcoming Stage-Related Films

By Michael Buckley
22 Oct 2006

Originally a one-act play, Suddenly runs 90 minutes without intermission at the Laura Pels. It's Harold's first time working with his co stars and the director. "It's a very, very enriching experience the work I'm being exposed to is incredibly good." His previous Williams encounters includes portraying Chance in Sweet Bird of Youth ("That was more of a workshop, in repertory with a class") and he's "worked on Brick" (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof). "I'm familiar with most of the plays. This is the first time I've taken such a close look at this one."

Harold confesses, "Im a bad interview because I want to always feel like I'm being totally honest, but at the same time I'm absolutely paranoid. That combination results in a lot of spaces. [Laughs] I want to work on things that really mean a lot to me. This has been one of the best falls [the season] in my life for a long time."

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In years past, from Broadway to Hollywood was a natural course for plays and musicals. True, the stars chosen for the movie versions of shows were not always ideal casting Lucille Ball as "Mame," Barbra Streisand in "Hello, Dolly!" but sometimes film preserved the stage performances, e.g. Katharine Hepburn in "The Philadelphia Story," Shirley Booth in "Come Back, Little Sheba," and many, many more. As we all know, in recent years, the path between coasts was far less traveled with an occasional surprise ("Chicago" winning an Oscar for Best Picture of 2002). The remaining months of 2006 brings to the big screens some stage-related pictures and actors. Following are just a few.



Highly anticipated are "The History Boys" (opening in November) and "Dreamgirls" (a December release). The former, which won this year's Tony as Best Play, went before the cameras before coming to Broadway, and the stage cast is intact. That includes two Tony-winning performances: Richard Griffiths and Frances de la Tour.

Three Tony winners are among the cast of "Dreamgirls": Anika Noni Rose (Caroline, or Change), Hinton Battle (Sophisticated Ladies, The Tap Dance Kid, Miss Saigon) and John Lithgow (The Changing Room, Sweet Smell of Success). It's been 25 years from stage to screen for "Dreamgirls," and original cast member Loretta Devine is in the film. It will be interesting to see if the movie fares as well as "Chicago," or shares the box-office fate of "Rent," "The Phantom of the Opera" and "The Producers."

"Flags of Our Fathers," the Clint Eastwood film that opened Friday, has a number of stage-related actors in its cast. Among them: John Benjamin Hickey, John Slattery, Judith Ivey, George Grizzard, George Hearn, Harve Presnell, Ned Eisenberg, Gordon Clapp, Mary Beth Peil and David Rasche.

Back in 1995 Jude Law appeared on Broadway in Indiscretions and Rufus Sewell played in Translations. They're both in December's "The Holiday," which also features Tony winner Eli Wallach (The Rose Tattoo), who celebrates his 91st birthday in December.

Currently on Broadway, Martin Short shows up as Jack Frost in "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause." Harry Connick, Jr., a Tony nominee for The Pajama Game, and Tony winner Brian O'Byrne (Frozen) are in "Bug." While they're on Broadway in the upcoming play The Vertical Hour, co-stars Julianne Moore and Bill Nighy will be seen in separate features: she's in "Children of Men," and he's in "Notes on a Scandal," which also stars Tony winner Judi Dench (Amy's View). Finally, "Night at the Museum," starring Ben Stiller, has two old pros playing guards at the Museum of Natural History: Dick Van Dyke, a Tony winner for Bye Bye Birdie, and Mickey Rooney, a nominee for Sugar Babies.

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Michael Buckley also writes for TheaterMania.