PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: Prelude to a Kiss The Robber Bride

By Harry Haun
12 Mar 2007

Ean Sheehy, who has starred in several Leight plays, is slowly infiltrating the series. "I just wrote him another part," Leight said. "We've used him a few times on 'Law and Order' he's Joshua Simmons, the forensic accountant so I just wrote him another little scene where he gets to come in and explain the Anna Nicole Smith family fortune."

At Sullivan's table were a couple of women he directed in a 2005 play by Pulitzer Prize-winning Donald Margulies, Brooklyn Boy Polly Draper and Ari Graynor.

Draper has been spinning a lot of plates of late and putting acting on the back-burner: "I have produced, written and directed a television series starring my entire family except me," she said. "The Naked Brothers Band" was first an independent mockumentary film in 2005, and now it is a hit Nickelodean television series. Her sons Nat, 12, and Alex, 9 comprise the title role(s), and occasionally Dad (jazz bandleader Michael Wolf). The boys, even if Mom says so herself, "are brilliant musicians and they've written all these amazing songs. So I haven't had a chance to do much acting. I'm doing a Lifetime movie right now. It's called 'Too Young to Marry' and, believe me, it's not about me."

"Again," her husband jokingly injects from the sidelines. "'Too Young to Marry Again.'"

Another all-over-the-place multi-tasker in attendance was Austin Pendleton. Is he writing, directing or acting these days? "Teaching, primarily at HB Studios," he replied.

Sullivan's next assignment will be Shakespeare steering Hamish Linklater through Hamlet at South Coast Rep. "We start rehearsing in mid-April, and it will open June 1."

Then, Seattle Rep's former artistic director begins a year as Manhattan Theatre Club's artistic director while Lynne Meadow gets some well-earned R&R. "My time is from August to August so I don't officially start until several months. It just works out most the work is happening now because Lynne and I are putting together a season for next year.

"We have talked for a while how absolutely necessary it is for her to take a sabbatical. This is just one of the ways to make it happen. I took a sabbatical in Seattle, and I didn't really plan it out so the year went by very quickly, and, at the end of it, I thought, 'I need another year. Now, I know what I want to do.' I'm happy to be doing this for Lynne."

The three leads pretty much dominate Prelude, but there's some good sideline support from the parents of the bride, Robin Bartlett (who originated the kooky lead in the play version of Lucas' Reckless) and James Rebhorn. It was not their first marriage, he noted: "Robin and I were married back in 1989 at La Jolla in a play called Nebraska by Keith Reddin so this is a happy reunion for us after a long separation. And I love this play."

Roundabout rounded up a cast of 13 for Prelude, and some name-brand actors among them. Macintyre Dixon has a bit as the minister officiating at the wedding plus 'I'm understudying John Mahoney so that's a nice touch. That's mainly why I'm doing it.

Numbered among the wedding guests is John Rothman, more than a tad overqualified for the assignment but he's squeezing a movie in at the same time. "I'm doing Griffin Dunne's movie, 'Accidental Husband,' with Uma Thurman. It's shooting at the Conde Nast building on Saturday, and they're giving me permission not to be in the curtain call so I can finish my part in the play and get over to the set and do my part in the movie."

Rothman was among the doomed plane passengers in "United 93," which The New York Film Critics considered the Best Picture of 2006. "It was one of the great experiences of my life," he said of the filming. "We had a great director [Paul Greengrass], and the fact he was nominated for an Oscar was very good because it will encourage people to see it. It's a very hard movie to see and to do for all these New York actors. Most of them theatre actors who could sustain an improvisation. The call sheet would say, 'Hijacking to crash.' And we had to do that several times a day. It's the hardest job I ever, ever had."

Director Taylor Hackford went stag to the play and party, sans his lately much-celebrated wife the Best Actress of 2006, regardless of what poll you read ("The Queen"-ly Helen Mirren). He's preparing a career switch from film to theatre with a Broadway musical based on a 1992 Steve Martin movie about a traveling evangelist conman, "Leap of Faith." "I'm doing a reading in the next two weeks here," he said, "and Raul Esparza is doing the Steve Martin role." Glenn (A Class Act) Slater, whom Alan Menken tapped to write the new songs for The Little Mermaid, will do lyrics to Menken's music and co-write the book with Janus Cercone, who wrote the original screenplay.

Now that LoveMusik is in rehearsal readying for its May opening at the Biltmore with Donna Murphy and Michael Cerveris as Lotte Leyna and Kurt Weill, titian-haired producer Chase Mishkin said she can focus on things in development. Like: another new musical, this by Charles Leiphart (book and lyrics) and Billy Goldstein (music), Lady on a Carousel, about some nerdy kids who go to Bronx Science High School."

Other first-nighters included the directors of Grey Gardens (Michael Greif), Spring Awakening (Michael Mayer) and I Am My Own Wife (Moises Kaufman, on the brink of A Big Announcement), Dana Ivey, The Public's Oskar Eustis, The WPA's "illegally blond" Kyle Renick, two-time Tony-winning costumer Martin Pakledinaz (praising the generosity of his Pirate Queen bosses and the wonders that choreographer Graciela Daniele and writer Richard Maltby Jr. have brought to that project), Simon Jones (bound for the Cherry Lane in Phallacy, a "play by the man who invented The Pill"), Cynthia Nixon (hinting about theatre in the near future, and, "of course, that 'Sex and the City' movie on the horizon"), dramatic soprano Lauren Flanigan (who did Robert Altman's opera in Chicago, A Wedding, and his recent memorial service) and, last but not least, Walter Charles (arriving from The Apple Tree, now finishing up its Studio 54 run).