By Robert Viagas
and David Lefkowitz
27 Apr 1998
If there were any doubts Yasmina Reza's play, Art, would be as big a hit on Broadway as it's been in London, box office figures are putting them to rest.
With a gross of $408,653 for the week ending Mar. 22, Art set a box office record for the Royale Theatre, whose last winner, An Inspector Calls, took in $402,142 back in January 1995. (Art still grossed strongly for the week ending Apr. 12, with $388,581 in receipts at 87.8 percent capacity.)
Now, newspaper columnist Liz Smith reported (Apr. 27) that Sean Connery, one of the play's producers, is getting ready to star in the film version, which will co-star Robert De Niro. (Smith reports that Reza wanted De Niro to star in the Broadway mounting, but he could only stay with the show three months, so she withdrew the offer.) The Internet Movie Database lists the film as being co-produced by Connery.
Two years ago, a teleplay of Art, titled "Kunst," was broadcast on German television.
Art began Broadway previews Feb. 12 with Victor Garber, Alan Alda and Alfred Molina starring as the three men whose friendship is thrown into turmoil over, of all things, a painting. Winner of London's Olivier and London Evening Standard Awards for Best Comedy, the show opened Mar. 1 at the Royale Theatre.
The play's debate about a piece of modern art turns into an exploration of the nature of friendship, male friendship in particular. Garber plays Serge, the art lover who purchases a canvas that is, for all practical purposes, completely white. His longtime friend, Marc (Alda), is infuriated by what he sees as the stupidity of such a move. His anger causes him to question the entire basis of their friendship. Molina plays Yvan, their mutual friend, who tries to mediate, but finds himself caught in the crossfire.
Garber has done straight plays, musicals, TV and films, but is perhaps best known for originating the roles of Antony in Sweeney Todd and John Wilkes Booth in Assassins. He was Tony-nominated three times, for Deathtrap, Little Me and the Damn Yankees revival, . He played Jesus in the film of Godspell. He's currently prominent in the film Titanic, playing the ship's designer, Thomas Andrews. The son of Robert Alda, the original Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, Alan Alda got his start in theatre, earning a Tony nomination for The Apple Tree. He earned international fame appearing as Hawkeye Pierce in the long-running TV comedy "M*A*S*H."
Molina came to fame playing the lover (and killer) of playwright Joe Orton in the Orton film biograpy Prick Up Your Ears.
For tickets: (212) 239-6200. Outside metro NY area: (800) 432-7250. You can also order tickets on Playbill On-Line.
Christopher Hampton's English translation of Reza's hit French play opened Oct. 15 at Wyndham's Theatre in London. Matthew Warchus directed and will again on Broadway. Though the London mounting first starred Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay, that production has continued its smash status through numerous cast replacements.
David Pugh and actor Sean Connery are co-producers of the London production. The Broadway production will be directed by Matthew Warchus, designed by Mark Thompson, and produced by Pugh and Connery with Joan Cullman.