PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: Glengarry Glen Ross; Hey, Who Killed the Klieg Lights?

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09 Dec 2012

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At intermission, the (long!) line to the men's room intertwined with the line to the bar, and I bumped into Mimi Lieber, director Daniel Sullivan's wife (and, when he needs one, choreographer). I asked her if there was any way to speak to some of the cast afterward, and she said she'd check with her husband and shoot me a thumbs up or thumbs down before the curtain went up. It was thumbs up. Inevitably, at play's end, there was the All-Hail-Al standing ovation — plus some well-deserved hosannas for the red-hot Roma of the night, Bobby Cannavale, a star whose time has come (on March 22, he starts heading up his own ensemble in the Roundabout Theatre Company revival of Clifford Odets' The Big Knife — and he'll actually play a Star).

Director Sullivan was waiting for me at the back of the theatre near the exit, plainly pleased with the proceedings but underplaying his pleasure, as is his nature.

"It was a play I always wanted to do so it was fun to work on," he admitted, omitting the probable point that Pacino requested him for director after their Tony-nominated collaboration last year on Broadway's 50th version of The Merchant of Venice. It was Sullivan's inspired idea to add to the play a wordless scene in which the humiliated Shylock goes to his punishment — not unlike Shelly's exit here.

Scheduling was Sullivan's biggest headache with this particular production: "It was difficult in terms of there being a lot of interruptions in the rehearsal process," he admitted. "Al had to go away a few times, Bobby was shooting 'Boardwalk Empire' so we had to work around a lot of different schedules to try to put it together."

So why was it that Pacino wanted a second shot at Glengarry Glen Ross? "He was just reading the play again, and he thought, 'Oh, this is a role I could play.' And, also, I think he liked the idea of doing 'Ricky' Roma and then going on and playing this."

The actor has made a habit of "revisiting" plays (Hughie, Salome, Richard III, Chinese Coffee). Again, why? "It's just something he gets obsessed by. He's an obsessed creature, and he continues to want to explore. That's part of his whole process."

Sullivan wasn't sure where the cast was reconvening, but, if I waited around, he would find out. Because they had to close the theatre for the night, I wound up waiting around just inside the stage door, which is now manned by Broadway's only actively acting doorman, William McCauley. His recent doorman credits: One Servant, Two Guvnors and, fleetingly this season, The Performers.


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