PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, April 12-18: Three New Broadway Openings and The Flick Takes the Pulitzer

By Robert Simonson
18 Apr 2014

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Santino Fontana and Tony Shalhoub
Photo by Joan Marcus

And what of Moss Hart & Co.? Act One, the new stage production based on the memoir of Broadway playwright, director and lyricist Hart, officially opened on Broadway April 17 at Lincoln Center Theater's Vivian Beaumont Theater. Santino Fontana, Tony Shalhoub and Andrea Martin are members of an ensemble that is perhaps the largest for a play on Broadway. James Lapine adapted the work and directed.

Act One, despite the fame of the title (well, in theatre circles, anyway), hasn't been getting much attention. A burst of great reviews would help raise its profile.



"Mr. Shalhoub and Mr. Fontana's shimmering performances are reason enough to celebrate," offered the Times, "and to heave a sigh of relief. If the lively but overblown production that surrounds them isn't always up to their high standards, I'm still not grousing...That's because whatever its flaws, Act One, which Mr. Lapine also directed, brims contagiously with the ineffable, irrational and irrefutable passion for that endangered religion called the Theater."

AP called the play "sweet" and added, "The majority of the 22 actors play multiple parts, jumping in and out of characters and costumes while the bold, complex set by Beowulf Boritt spins and spins. So in its very fiber and execution, it's a celebration of the theater itself."

The verdict on Lapine's work as a writer was mixed. Time Out NY thought the adaptation "quite faithful and wrought with abundant skill and empathy," but noted that "less smoothly transferred from page to stage is Hart's narrative tone." However, the Hollywood Reporter thought, "all the magic is confined to the design department," and that Lapine's adaptation was "botched." New York Magazine, meanwhile, stated, "Unfortunately, the production that has actually resulted will likely satisfy neither the acolytes nor the cynics. Act One, the play, is too mild for the former and too credulous for me." (I guess we now know that Jesse Green categorizes himself as a cynic. But, then, he's a critic. Of course he is.)

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Playwright Annie Baker's The Flick — an existential, three-hour work about three underpaid employees who mop the floors and talk about this and that (and sometimes, don't talk at all) at the last 35 millimeter film projectors in the state — was the semi-surprising winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, which was announced April 14.

Semi-suprising because, while the play was generally well-received critically, it was controversial work that divided audiences, so much so that Playwrights Horizons brass were compelled to defend themselves to subscribers.

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