Broderick & Lonergan: Fortysomething Messengers

PlayBlog   Broderick & Lonergan: Fortysomething Messengers
The New Group, which is premiering Kenneth Lonergan's new play, The Starry Messenger, on Nov. 23 at Theatre Row, opted to have its opening-night party a week early and packed the house with assorted celebs and its own starry stock company: Bobby Cannavale, Josh Hamilton, Jennifer Westfeldt, Sam Trammell, Sam Rockwell, Natasha Lyonne, Rosie O'Donnell, Wallace Shawn, Kathryn Erbe, Joan Rivers, Leslie Bibb, Tate Donovan, Lisa Emery and Callie Thorne.

Matthew Broderick, a longtime pal of Lonergan who appeared in the writer-director's film "You Can Count on Me," plays a dullish, sparkle-free astronomy teacher at the Hayden Planetarium who stumbles into an extramarital affair (with Catalina Sandino Moreno, the Oscar nominee of "Maria Full of Grace"). J. Smith-Cameron — Mrs. Lonergan, ironically — plays a wife you'd want to run away from.

The tone of the play is serious and life-like, peppered with stingy zingers and measured sarcasm. For Broderick, the role is very heavy-lifting, Hamlet-sized and full of protracted speeches. Just getting through it is a major feat of memory.

One speech, he said, "is three solid pages of script — with very wide margins."

"He's perfect for it," Lonergan declared at the party. "I tried to write this play 20 years ago and couldn’t make it work out, but, when I was working on it, I was thinking, 'Gee, I wish Matthew was in his 40s,' because I always thought it was a good part for him. Now, here we are in our 40s so…"

— Harry Haun

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