Kate Burton Will Join Kevin Kline in Broadway’s Present Laughter

News   Kate Burton Will Join Kevin Kline in Broadway’s Present Laughter
Also coming aboard the revival: Kristine Nielsen and Cobie Smulders.
Kate Burton
Kate Burton Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

Kate Burton, Kristine Nielsen, and Cobie Smulders have joined the cast of the Broadway revival of Noël Coward’s backstage comedy, Present Laughter, which will star the previously announced Kevin Kline.

Produced by Jordan Roth and directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel (Hand to God), Present Laughter is scheduled to begin previews March 10, 2017, and open April 5 at the St. James Theatre, following the January 1 departure of the musical Something Rotten! Present Laughter is scheduled for a 16-week limited run.

Tickets can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com or by calling (877) 250-2929.

Kline, who was a member of the legendary inaugural season of The Acting Company (along with Patti LuPone and others), won Tony Awards for On the 20th Century in 1978 (at the St. James) and for The Pirates of Penzance in 1981, two roles that made good use of his skills at swashbuckling physical comedy. Kline was seen on Broadway most recently in the 2007 revival of Cyrano de Bergerac. He won an Academy Award for his performance in A Fish Called Wanda. He will play Garry Essendine, a playwright of light comedies (which Coward modeled on himself) who tries to deal with family, deadlines, business matters, and a parade of overheated fans as he faces his midlife crisis.

Burton, who will play his estrange wife, Liz Essendine, made her Broadway debut in the 1982 Broadway production of Present Laughter directed by George C. Scott, and has since been a staple of stage and screen, including her Tony-nominated performances in Hedda Gabler, The Elephant Man, and The Constant Wife and her Emmy-nominated roles on the TV dramas Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal.

Nielsen (Monica Reed) earned a 2013 Tony nomination for her performance in the Best Play winner Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. Other Broadway credits include A Streetcar Named Desire opposite Natasha Richardson and Amy Ryan; Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson; and, most recently, the 2014 revival of You Can’t Take It With You.

Making her Broadway debut, Smulders (Joanna Lyppiatt) is known for her film work as Maria Hill in The Avengers and Captain America franchises, as well as her recent role as the female lead opposite Tom Cruise in Paramount’s Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. On TV, she starred in the nine-season run of the CBS comedy How I Met Your Mother. Onstage, she appeared in the hit Off-Broadway production Love, Loss and What I Wore.

Roth said in an earlier statement, “If I didn't know that Noël Coward wrote this part for himself, I'd say he must have written it for Kevin Kline. Kevin's performances have been such an indelible part of my theatre-going and film-watching lifetime, as I know they have been for all of us. Being part of his return to Broadway and to the St. James is about as good as it gets.”

“In our fame and social media-obsessed age, it feels especially apropos to do a sex farce about being a celebrity,” von Stuelpnagel added. “We all curate a kind of facade, a public face, but when the laughs and the parties end, I think we’re left with something darker and deeply human: ourselves, private, true. Present Laughter is bitingly witty, full of glamour and vivid personalities, but beneath that, there's something striking to me about the comedian stripped down to his most personal self, in this, Coward’s most personal play.”

This will be the sixth Broadway production of Present Laughter since its author debuted it in 1946, taking the role of successful light-play author Garry Essendine for himself. Coward revived it in 1958, again as the star.

It was done again in 1982, starring George C. Scott (with early-career Nathan Lane as the aspiring writer Roland Maule), in 1998 with Frank Langella as Essendine, and in 2010 starring Victor Garber.

Here is a clip of Kline in his Tony-winning performance as the Pirate King in Wilford Leach’s staging of The Pirates of Penzance in its pre-Broadway performance at the Delacorte Theater in New York’s Central Park:

(Updated December 9, 2016)


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