PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: Ann; A Big House for the Little Lady

By Harry Haun
08 Mar 2013

Benjamin Endsley Klein and Holland Taylor
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN
At 70, Taylor is making her Broadway bow as a playwright (indeed, it's her first play ever); at 32, Benjamin Endsley Klein is making his Broadway bow as a director. His past decade has been spent assisting director Jack O'Brien on a variety of projects.

"Jack and Holland are very close friends and have worked together for years," he said. "When she was working on the script, she asked Jack to take a look at it, and he ended up recommending me to her. We've worked together on everything in the entire show. I've done a lot of editing with her because she did four years of working on the script and had so many glorious wonderful stories about Ann, and she wanted to cram 'em all into the play; so I've done a ton of editing, making sure the play was streamlined and we understood the woman without having too much fat there. She would fight me on it, and then she would go, 'You're right, you're right.'

"Can you imagine? At her age, with the career she has had, she created this. She made this happen because she was moved to do it she was so passionate about it."

Bob Boyett, who's lead producer here with Harriet Newman Leve, was beaming about his star's multitasking: "Holland did a fantastic job," he declared with sincere enthusiasm, "and she did everything. She was the writer, the co-producer, the actor, the researcher, everything. All that, and she happens to be a wonderful lady." He was also pleased at snagging the Beaumont for the show's Broadway bow. "Believe it or not, we've played bigger houses than the Beaumont. It kinda works because of the speech to a graduating class — they have gymnasiums and large auditoriums."

The freshly Oscared Anne Hathaway lent genuine glamour to the evening. (Her mom, Kate, is part of the platoon of producers for this one-person show.) Another is one of Taylor's "Two and a Half Men," the not-quite-so-freshly-Emmyed Jon Cryer.

The prettiest of the producing team — Emily Conner [Dayton, TX] — brought some local color to the party: Ann Richards all-white (a white satin cowboy suit, replete with rhinestone-studded purse and Stetson). She counts herself a transplanted Texan — "in New York City for 16 years, producing events. I'm very involved with Bette Midler's restoration project, and I'm an associate producer on this show.

"I knew Ann Richards in politics when she was state treasurer of Texas. My father was very close to Mark White, the governor at the time, so we used to campaign with Ann. She was a mentor to me then, and I knew her when she was in New York. In fact, I co-produced events for the launch of her book, 'I'm Not Slowing Down.'"