PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial: The Cracking of Captain Queeg

By Harry Haun
08 May 2006

Prominent among the Court-Martial spectators: "The West Wing’"s Richard Schiff who has come East to build a stage career, starting small (like Underneath the Lentil at the George Street Playhouse) toward his Broadway debut (“I was sticking my toes in the water, but I’m going to dive in head-first sometime soon”), "Rosemary’s Baby" author Ira Levin (revealing there’s a revival of his long-running Deathtrap in the works), composer Richard Adler (enjoying his second and, happily, current Pajama Game smash), four-time-Tony-winner-fresh-from-those-Carnegie-cheers Audra McDonald, Tovah Feldshuh, who’ll be sparring with Walter Charles in the Paper Mill Playhouse’s Hello, Dolly! July 7-July 25, Awake and Sing’s Zoe Wanamaker, Tony winner Richard Easton, director Walter Bobbie (currently readying the workshop of High Fidelity, with Will Chase in the John Cusack role, for a press preview May 10), Democracy’s Richard Thomas and Tarzan’s Shuler Hensley with wives, Fran Drescher, one of the Lortel-bound Some Girl(s), with lawyer Mark Sendroff, half of the Jersey Boys (J. Robert Spencer and Christian Huff), one of the Little Women (Megan McGinnis) with—poor thing—Sweeney Todd (Michael Cerveris), Jill Clayburgh with daughter Lily Rabe, "Adaptation"’s Judy Greer with “Boston Public”’s Joey Slotnick and the DuBois sisters from the D.C. Streetcar (Patricia Clarkson and Amy Ryan).

Clarkson, who originated “the Julia Roberts role” in the original 1997 go-around of Three Days of Rain, is pretty deep into her movie career these days. “I’m about to do a really beautiful film,” she trills. “I just got cast in it. It’s called `Marriage,' and it’s me, Chris Cooper, Pierce Brosnan and Rachel McAdams. I play Chris’ wife. It’s a quartet thing, and it takes place in the 1940s. Ira Sachs, who co-wrote it, will be the director.”

Hamish Linklater, who plays Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ brother on “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” is in an opposite holding pattern than Clarkson while he waits to see if he will be returning to TV. “Anytime back on the boards is proper use of my time,” he reasons. “I did this play Cyclone at Michael Imperioli’s theatre, Studio Dante, which closed a few weeks ago, and now I’m doing The Busy World Is Hushed at Playwrights Horizons with Christine Lahti. She’s fantastic—formidable. I play a young writer who helps her write about a newly discovered gospel. She’s a minister in the Episcopalian church.”

The Schoenfeld wasn’t a tough commute for Rachel York (who merely crossed the street from her Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with her producer-beau, Ayal Miodovnik) or for Martin Moran (who simply came around the corner from Spamalot with a NYU student from his hometown of Denver, Zach Lane, making his first Broadway opening night). “I’m here supporting my friend Geoffrey, and Zeljko I’ve known for years,” says Moran. “It’s fun to see them in those parts. Geoffrey’s always great—and a beautiful playwright.”

Two coming or going to Second Stage another block west were Eric Bogosian and Kate Burton. He was Greenwald in Robert Altman’s 1988 CBS movie version of The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial and will have his 1994 subUrbia revived there by his wife, Some Girl(s) director Jo Bonney, Sept. 6. Burton is currently rehearsing Theresa Rebeck’s The Water’s Edge with Tony Goldwyn and Mamie Gummer for a Second Stage premiere June 15. Burton’s hubby, Michael Ritchie, has only been running the Ahmanson and Mark Taper Forum less than a year, and already he’s starting to look like a movie star. “I know, Sam Rockwell just said that to him,” beams Mrs. Ritchie, who’s juggling rehearsals and playing an intense game of catch-up as a Tony nominator. “Every night I’m out. But it’s often very inspiring. How great was that Zeljko! Michael stage-managed the John Rubinstein revival of this show at Circle in the Square and said this was the best he’d ever seen—including Humphrey Bogart in the movie version.”

(Not everybody is of that opinion. Maurice Joseph Micklewhite, for instance. He decided to become an actor because of Bogart’s performance (an Oscar-nominated one, and the last of Bogie’s best) so he got Michael out his last name and Caine from the USS Caine.)

Also ubiquitous, making the last-minute rounds of shows as a member of the Tony nominating committee (but finding little among the Sardi’s bill of fare for her vegetarian palate), was Dana Ivey. “I’m also here for Terry [Beaver, who heads the court-martial court],” she says. “We worked together in Atlanta, and I’m the person who got him up here for The Last Night of Ballyhoo." [They played brother and sister in Alfred Uhry’s Tony-winning Best Play of 1997.] “I’m glad he made the choice to stay. He’s done well.”

Clayburgh was marveling at the new second-story layout at Sardi's—a new exposed view of theatregoers roaming up and down West 45th Street, the most Broadway street in the city. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen this because I’m mostly downstairs, but this is beautiful. Having the party at Sardi’s is a real throwback. This is where I grew up—Sardi’s.”

She’s winding down from back-to-back Broadway comebacks— A Naked Girl on the Appian Way at the American Airlines Theatre and Barefoot in the Park finishing up May 21 at the Cort. “I’m going to do a ‘Nip/Tuck’ next, and I’ve a movie coming out, `Running With Scissors.' I have a great part. It’s not a fully realized part in the book, but it’s better in the movie. I’m Augusten Burroughs’ adopted mother. You’ve not seen me do anything like this. You’ll see it and you’ll come up to me at a party and go ‘JILL!!!’ You will!”

Into My Life’s Christopher J. Hanke says he still doesn’t know who the Johnny Depp will be that he’ll menace in the musical version of Cry-Baby—casting is in its final throes. “There’s a lot of movement, though. We’re about to do a workshop in a couple of weeks—in June. John Waters [writer-director of the 1990 film] is one of the creative consultants and kinda overseeing it all. Mark Brokaw is directing. We’ve worked together a couple of times now, and I think he’s just pretty spot-on. Tom Meehan and Mark O’Donnell are doing the book, together again after Hairspray. Rob Ashford is choreographing.”

Now that he has settled The Lieutenant of Inishmore into the Lyceum with some solid notices, producer Randall L. Wreghitt is up for The Great Game, which he and partner Chase Mishkin will be taking out of town after the first of the year.

Producer Hal Luftig is sitting pretty with two shows on the pipeline— The Times They Are A-Changing, Twyla Tharp’s interpretation of Bob Dylan tunes as a coming-of-age story, and Legally Blonde, director-choreographer Jerry Mitchell’s musicalization of the Reese Witherspoon film comedy. Michael Arden, Thom Sesma, Jenn Colella and Justin Bohon head the Tharp project—plus “there was a whole cast from our Old Globe production that she is now looking at as she restructures. We go into rehearsals in August, and we begin previews at the Atkinson in September and open there, I think, Oct. 26. The workshop on Legally Blonde happens right away, on the 19th and 20th. Jerry’s going to be very big. You know what surprises me? As a director, he gets storytelling. It’s not just about the dance. He’s, like, ‘Why is this character doing this?’ and ‘Where are they are going?’ He gets it. So it’s exciting to have two shows next season. Then, after Blonde opens, you can visit me in the hospital.”