PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: Translations Nothing Lost in Hynes' Sight

By Harry Haun
29 Jan 2007

The red-carpet action in front of the Biltmore zipped by at 78 rpm — one of the fastest on Record — and no small thanks to the temperature plummeting to the nippy 'n' nasty teens.

Both theatre bars (patrons and stars upstairs, press and peons downstairs) filled up fast and stayed filled till curtain. At intermission, it was an immovable feast on both floors.

First to arrive at the theatre were the DuBois sisters from south (very) of the Potomac. "We're here, just supporting Garry," explained Amy Ryan, who played Stella to Patricia Clarkson's Blanche in a Streetcar Hynes directed for the Tennessee Williams salute at the Kennedy Center in '04 (a rare but well-gauged departure from Hynes' Irish roots).

"I've been doing movies this past year," Ryan said, almost as an apology for her stage absence. She just completed "Dan in Real Life," written and directed by playwright Peter Hedges, who got Clarkson up for Oscar consideration a couple of years ago for "Pieces of April." Clarkson finished a flick called "Lars and the Real Girl" with the newly nominated Ryan Gosling. ("His nomination's the yummiest thing, and he's the most divine young man.") It followed right on the reels of "Marriage" with Pierce Brosnan, Chris Cooper and Rachel McAdams. "I'm on a wonderful break right now, doing personal fun things."

Tyne Daly tarried a while, lingering outside the theatre which she last distinguished with a Tony-nominated performance (for Rabbit Hole) — to finish a cigarette — and then she faced the bundled-up paparazzi. No, she has no immediate plans to return to the stage. "I'm retired," she goofed. "I'm always retired — the way that I quit smoking. Regularly."

Novelist Erica Jong arrived early too, exhibiting fear of freezing but much friendship. "Lynne Meadow is a great friend of mine," she offered. "I love her, and I want to see everything she's involved in. I follow MTC, and I'm always excited about what they do."

What Meadow is involved in currently is directing her 30th (!) MTC show, Charles Busch's Our Leading Lady with Kate Mulgrew as Laura Keene, the 19th-century actress who was performing Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre the night Lincoln was shot.

Meadow's McCarter counterpart, Mann, is also taking up the megaphone — to direct her own work, Mrs. Packard, which will premiere at the McCarter May 4-10 and then play the Kennedy Center. The opus won the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award. Next year she'll direct at the McCarter Edward Albee's newest — Me, Myself & I.

Reed Birney, the leading man in Our Leading Lady (one Gavin DeChamblay), arrived from rehearsal nervously ready for the play and party. (It was his first Hard Rock visit.)

Also in rehearsal — times two, in fact — was Michael Cerveris. "Right now, there's sort of a battle between Kurt Weill and King Lear for my chin and what grows on it," he said. He's about to start playing Kent to Kevin Kline's Lear at The Public by night while rehearsing Weill to Donna Murphy's Lotte Lenya in LoveMusik for Broadway by day. What a juggling act! "I know: no sense, no fear," he shrugged, "but it's two thrilling, exciting things to work on — and I'm not going to say no to challenges like these."

Paradigm agent Clifford Stevens' big news of the day was that Sir Michael Gambon will be doing Lord Marchmain (the Olivier role) in "Brideshead Revisited," which, despite its perfection the first time around, will be remade by the British (sort of an Evelyn Wood reading of Evelyn Waugh, reduced to feature-length size for single-sitting consumption).

An inordinate amount of directors (all male) was on hand to worship at the Hynes altar: Jewtopia's John Tillinger, I Am My Own Wife's Moises Kaufman, Chicago's Walter Bobbie, Grey Gardens' Michael Greif, Grand Hotel's Tommy Tune, Regrets Only's Christopher Ashley and MTC's man for one season, Dan Sullivan. Also: Diane Davis and David Rasche (late-arriving from Regrets Only; he's off after the Sunday closing to Seattle to do a film, "The Spy and the Sparrow"); Beth Fowler; Paige Price; Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Alfred Uhry; Julie Halston; Margaret Colin (Buggy's sister in Aristocrats and seated at a place of honor at his table); Heather Randall; Holland Taylor; Henry Stram (Broadway-bound in Inherit the Wind April 12) and Marian Seldes (likewise Broadway-bound in Deuce, opposite Angela Lansbury, May 6).

The biggest star and most glamorous presence at the theatre didn't make the photo-tip sheet (God forbid!) and didn't move once she sat down in the theatre, three seats in, spending the intermission reading her Playbill (including moi, fleetingly): Glenn Close.

The Riverdance duo producing The Pirate Queen and putting that epic musical of 16th century Irish folklore into previews March 6 for an April 5 opening at the Hilton — Moya Doherty and John McColgan — led a company contingent to Translations. Among them: the composer (Claude-Michel Schönberg), the title player (Stephanie J. Block) and the leading man (Hadley Fraser). They may have viewed it as more field trip than Friel trip.

"I understood the Gaelic — it was the English that gave me trouble," cracked Malachy McCourt, as inevitable a first-nighter to a Friel play as Tim O'Connor (Consul General of Ireland) and the co-artistic chieftains of the Irish Rep, Charlotte Moore and Ciaran O'Reilly — all present and accounted for. A jokester asked the last two on their way out what they — as Hungarians — thought of the play. Shot back O'Reilly: "Better than Cats."