The Verdict: Critics Review Forest Whitaker in Hughie

The Verdict   The Verdict: How Did the Critics Greet Forest Whitaker's Broadway Debut in Hughie?
The Oscar winner opened February 25 in a revival of Eugene O'Neill's play.
Frank Wood and Forest Whitaker in Hughie
Frank Wood and Forest Whitaker in Hughie Mark Brenner

Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning actor Forest Whitaker made his Broadway debut February 25 in a revival of Eugene O'Neill's two-hander drama Hughie at the Booth Theatre. Previews began February 8.

Hughie is four-time Pulitzer Prize winner O’Neill's play about drunken, small-time hustler Erie Smith (Whitaker), who is mourning the death of a small Manhattan hotel’s night clerk, Hughie, with his successor. Erie had made a rare connection with the departed Hughie, and wants to recreate it with his taciturn successor. Whitaker starred in such critically acclaimed films as The Butler and The Last King of Scotland, for which he won the Oscar as Best Actor.

Whitaker is joined by Frank Wood (Side Man, Angels in America, Clybourne Park) as A Night Clerk. Wood won the 1999 Tony Award as Best Featured Actor in a Play for his work in Side Man.

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Director Michael Grandage, who has also directed Evita, Frost/Nixon and 2014's The Cripple of Inishmaan on Broadway, reunites his entire creative team from the 2010 Broadway production of Red. This includes Tony-winning set and costume designer Christopher Oram, Tony-winning lighting designer Neil Austin and Tony-winning sound designer Adam Cork

Hughie premiered on Broadway in 1964 (with Jason Robards Jr.) and was last revived in 1996 (with Al Pacino). Whitaker plays the role of Erie, which has also been performed by such acclaimed actors as Burgess Meredith and Ben Gazzara. O'Neill is the only American playwright to win the Nobel Prize for literature.

Multi-award winner Whitaker has appeared in more than 50 films and worked with some of cinema’s most respected directors, including Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, Spike Jonze and many more. He will next appear on the big screen in the anticipated “Star Wars: Rogue One.” 

Though Whitaker is known primarily as a film actor, he studied opera at the University of Southern California in the early 1980s and was later accepted into the school's Drama Conservatory.

Twenty-five seats have been set aside for every performance to be sold at $25 each, with a limit of two per customer. The tickets are available via, (212) 239-6200.

The $25 price ties Hughie with Phantom of the Opera and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time for lowest-priced non-discounted tickets on Broadway, according to the Broadway League.

Tickets for Hughie, ranging up to $149 each, can be ordered online at or by phone at (212) 239-6200 or at the Booth Theatre box office, 222 West 45th Street in Manhattan.

Whitaker commented, "I am pleased that Hughie is participating in a program that makes Broadway tickets affordable and easy to obtain so anyone interested in live theater can experience O’Neill’s work first hand.”

Hughie is produced by Darren Bagert, Michael Grandage Company, Adam Zotovich, Joan Raffe & Jhett Tolentino, Arielle Tepper Madover, Martin McCallum, Debbie Bisno, CJ E&M, Jeffrey Finn, Hagemann Rosenthal Associates, Stacey Mindich, Bob Boyett, Seaview Productions, Taylor Weinstein Theatricals, Julie Boardman, Falkenstein Simons LTD, Michael Watt and The Shubert Organization.

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