Lesley Manville has had an astonishing few years of late, moving from Ibsen at the National (Pillars of the Community opposite Damian Lewis) to John Guare at the Old Vic (Six Degrees of Separation, playing Stockard Channing’s original role) and now back to Ibsen with his classic drama, Ghosts in Richard Eyre’s intense production at the Trafalgar. Equally well known from her work in film, most notably with the writer-director Mike Leigh, the warmly engaging actress chatted with Broadway.com about keeping the classics alive, not going Hollywood and her fervent wish to bring this most recent project to New York. There is talk of Ghosts coming to New York. Would you be keen for that to happen? No question about it, I would love to. I am not yet ready to walk away from this play. You do seem to get an awful lot of roles where you are the mother to a dying child. Oh God, I know! When I was doing [Mike Leigh’s play] Grief at the National Theatre, my onstage daughter was played by the real-life daughter of my best friend, Janine Duvitski, whom I watched being born, so it was very strange having her die there with me at each performance. But these have all been magnificent, complex roles so I can hardly complain. Isn’t it amazing how how modern the play feels, even though it is being performed in period and was written in Scandinavia in 1881? Yes, what Richard has done so subtly is help the audience to absolutely register that the play is talking about them even though, as you say, we have period sets and costumes and everything. There are nights when I say as Mrs. Alving that my whole married life has been a vile sham, and I can sense a gasp from the house and I know that some poor person is experiencing or has experienced a version of what I just said. All throughout, you can hear the audience tingling at certain lines that in Richard’s adaptation bring the material home. You came to New York with Caryl Churchill’s now-classic play Top Girls some 30 years ago, and were married for a while to Gary Oldman, who became a major Hollywood star. Did you ever feel the need to base yourself in the States or make a bid for that kind of stardom? Not really, but don’t forget that when I was in my 20s, nobody really did that. I know it kind of happened to Gary, but that was sort of an exception and that came about because he’d made Sid and Nancy and Prick Up Your Ears. Then he suddenly he got offered this film [in 1989] called Chattahoochee, which led to work in the States. It was very unusual at that time. Certainly actors in my circle didn’t have American agents and weren’t auditioning for pilot seasons—it just didn’t happen. I’m sort of glad it didn’t, really, because honestly I do think that the true test of a decent actress is how good they can be on stage. How would you describe Mrs. Alving’s dilemma in the play? She has lived a lie her entire life—and kept the reality of her brutal marriage to her late husband quiet. She’s kept it a secret from her son, Oswald, who is on his way back to be with her from Paris, and even from the man she really loves who was the Pastor. The play can be said to take place at the point at which Mrs. Alving finds the courage to expose all of this because she has achieved a kind of liberation—until it then all takes a really bad turn. Your career flies in the face of the often-cited assertion that parts for women dry up as they get older whereas yours seem only to get better. I know, and I feel a bit guilty about that, but I think it is true that it gets harder. At the same time, I think there’s been a quiet change happening—a growing realization that there is an audience that wants to watch plays and television and films that deal with older women. So I do appreciate that the situation is difficult once you get to a certain age, but that I equally seem to be defying that! Have you been getting audience members who think are coming to the now-closed London and Broadway musical Ghost? [Laughs.] I don’t think so, but you never know! You’ve had an amazing few years, but your performance as Mrs. Alving in Ghosts seems special even by those high standards. That’s very kind of you to say, and, you know, I do think Mrs. Alving feels like a kind of pinnacle—the culmination of a good few years of work that I’ve done in the theater and on film as well. It feels like the top of the mountain both in terms of the role and the play itself. View Comments Commercial productions of Ibsen are pretty rare, especially ones that are selling out as yours is. That’s very true, and I really do think we’ve broken a mold with this production, which in itself wouldn’t have been possible without doing it first at the Almeida, where the producer Sonia Friedman came to see us and now here we are. What Richard [Eyre, the play’s director and adaptor] has done is draw together a really good bunch of actors who were able to create the piece absolutely organically from the script that he had written and because of the talent in the rehearsal room, it just came very naturally to life. Is part of your career resurgence due to the fact that your son with Gary is now grown? Christ, yes! I was a single mother so there was a lot of stuff that I couldn’t do that—now that Alfie is 25—I obviously can do, so there’s a certain liberation to that. I remember particularly being asked to play Kate in The Taming of the Shrew for the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford followed by a 17-week tour, and I couldn’t do it; I had a six-year-old son.
Screen icon and Tony nominee Sid Caesar has died aged 91 years old. According to the L.A. Times, the Yonkers New York-born comedian passed away at his home in Beverly Hills after a brief illness. View Comments Caesar was best known for his pioneering TV work on the weekly live comedy program Your Show of Shows, which began in 1950 and where he collaborated with such luminaries as Mel Brooks and Neil Simon. The Emmy winner subsequently starred in the much-loved Caesar’s Hour and The Sid Caesar Show. Caesar made his Broadway debut in Make Mine Manhattan in 1948 and later appeared on the Main Stem in Little Me, where he garnered a Tony nod for Best Actor, and Four on a Garden. His big screen credits included Brooks’ Silent Movie, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World, Airplane and Grease. Caesar was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1985. In 2011 he received a lifetime achievement award from the Television Critics Association. In 1943 Caesar married Florence Levy, by whom he had two daughters and a son.
Rocky Related Shows Star Files Show Closed This production ended its run on Aug. 17, 2014 Yo, Adrian! It’s me, Tony nominee Andy Karl! The Rocky leading man, along with members of the cast, stopped by The Late Show on May 1 to perform the 11 o’clock number “Keep on Standing.” That’s the part where Rocky takes to the ring with David Letterman, right? OK, maybe not, but the Italian Stallion is certainly ready for the fight of his life by the end of this number. Take a look at the showstopping performance below, and catch Rocky on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre! Andy Karl View Comments
Lindsay Lohan’s Good Intentions Lindsay Lohan, who will soon make her stage debut in David Mamet’s Speed-The-Plow, has said that missing shows is “not on the cards. It’s not.” The notoriously talented but tardy star told the BBC: “I’m at a place in my life where I like the commitment. I’m looking forward to that part of it.” Music to ticket buyers’—and producers’—ears. Betty Buckley’s Theatrical Superstition Did you know that when a theater is unoccupied, a lone light bulb is left on at night to keep the ghosts company? The light is called a ghost light. Well Broadway legend Betty Buckley did (of course) and has named her new album Ghostlight. We can’t wait to hear the record, which will be released on September 16. Here’s a quick roundup of stories you may have missed today. View Comments Ready for a Night at the Opera With Patti LuPone? Speaking of Broadway divas and ghosts…we now know who will be joining Patti LuPone as Samira and Patricia Racette as Marie Antoinette in the previously announced L.A. Opera’s The Ghost of Versailles. Directed by A Gentleman’s Guide’s Darko Tresnjak, the production will also star Christopher Maltman as Beaumarchais, Lucas Meacheum as Figaro, Lucy Schaufer as Susana and Richard Croft as Count Almaviva. The show will play a limited engagement from February 7, 2015 through March 1. Star Files Patti LuPone
Cranston won a Tony for his Broadway debut in All The Way. In addition to his Emmy-winning turn on Breaking Bad, his many film and TV credits include Argo, Malcolm in the Middle, Drive, The Cleveland Show, The King of Queens, Seinfeld and Little Miss Sunshine. Bryan Cranston is officially coming back to the small screen! As previously speculated, the Tony and Emmy winner will reprise his performance as President Lyndon B. Johnson in a TV movie based on All the Way. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Steven Spielberg will produce the adaptation of the Tony-winning drama for HBO. All the Way playwright and Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Schenkkan will pen the screenplay. Additional casting and expected production and air dates have yet to be announced. Star Files All the Way begins with the Kennedy assassination and details the first year of Johnson’s presidency, focusing on his involvement with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The drama starts on Air Force One on November 23, 1963, as the plane transports the body of President Kennedy back to Washington, D.C., and Johnson summons his courage to take on the role of commander-in-chief. The play took its final Broadway bow on June 29. View Comments Bryan Cranston
In the corporate world, employees leaving a job are often asked to sit through an “exit interview” with HR about their time at the company. Although that concept doesn’t exist for Broadway performers, we love checking in with stars as they finish up a successful run. Tony-nominated A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder star Lauren Worsham will hang up her (very, very elaborate) hat on October 26, when she plays her final performance as Phoebe in the Tony-winning musical. As Worsham says farewell to her Broadway family at the Walter Kerr Theatre, she looks back on her “surreal and hilarious” run in A Gentleman’s Guide. What was the highlight of your time at this job? Meeting so many wonderful people. I love all of my co-workers so much. I also loved watching the show and its creators win so many awards! How did you feel when you first got the job? It felt surreal. I had been working so long in order to get to Broadway but along the way I veered into a different career path and thought maybe Broadway would never be interested. Mostly, it was a wonderful surprise! What are three words you would use to describe your experience? Surreal, hilarious, marathon. What skills do you think are required for future job applicants? Perseverance, calm in the storm and perspective plus a high soprano voice and killer comic timing. Catherine Walker, the new Phoebe, possesses all these in spades! What was the hardest thing? Balancing work and home life, missing dinner, constant vocal vigilance (no caffeine, alcohol, dairy, no yelling, complete vocal rest during busy weeks, etc.) while also trying not to say no to many extracurricular gigs like my band and other charity concerts. How do you think you’ve grown during your time at this job? I’ve learned boatloads about my limits as a singer and as a human. My voice has grown and my technique has become much more relaxed. I’ve learned there is a BIG difference between doing a show for three months versus twelve. View Comments How do you feel now that you’re leaving? I feel 100% bittersweet. I’m very excited about all my upcoming projects and about getting to spend more time with my family, but I am also very sad to leave my Walter Kerr family behind. You spend so much time together over a year and develop very strong bonds. I know I won’t see them all every day. If I’m lucky, once every few months, but maybe not for years. That’s heartbreaking. I’ll also miss the routine and ritual plus the gorgeous costumes and beautiful music. It feels like moving to a new city. Exciting, but sad and nostalgic. I’ll miss Phoebe too. Related Shows Why are you leaving? I have so many diverse gigs coming up that it just didn’t make sense to stay timing-wise, but it was a very hard decision to make. Before the end of year I have nine concerts including Showboat with the New York Philharmonic and Not the Messiah at Carnegie Hall, not to mention a few Sky-Pony gigs as well. Also, in the opera and classical world pieces are cast years in advance. A few of my upcoming projects in 2015 were in the books before I even auditioned for GGLAM! Also, I’m really looking forward to the small breaks where I can spend time with my husband who hasn’t really had dinner with his wife in over a year. A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder What was the easiest thing about the job? The people. Every single person working at the Walter Kerr is an exemplary human and wonderful to be around. What advice would you give to future employees your position? One wrong note does not a performance make. It’s a marathon and not a sprint so keep the big picture in mind and have fun (the last part is easy). What will you miss most about the job? My family here, all the little show rituals, having a willing audience for my surplus of baked goods, having a second home in Times Square, the stunning clothes and being onstage with some of my most favorite people in the world. Show Closed This production ended its run on Jan. 17, 2016
SYDNEY LUCASFun Home MAX VON ESSENAn American in Paris Tony night is almost here! As we count down the days until June 7, we’re getting more and more excited for the first-time Tony nominees who could be taking home a trophy for Best Actor or Actress this year. We asked you to rank the Tony newbies you’re rooting for on Culturalist. The results are in! Check out who you guys picked below. TONY YAZBECKOn the Town EMILY SKEGGSFun Home BETH MALONEFun Home BRADLEY COOPERThe Elephant Man ALEX SHARPThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time LEANNE COPEAn American in Paris STEVEN BOYERHand to God ROBERT FAIRCHILDAn American in Paris View Comments
Related Shows Gigantic, a new musical that previously played the New York Musical Theatre Festival under the name Fat Camp, will kick off the Vineyard Theatre’s 2015-16 season. The show features music by Matthew roi Berger, lyrics by Randy Blair and a book by Blair and Tim Drucker. Scott Schwartz will direct. Off-Broadway performances will begin on November 11; opening night is set for December 3.As previously announced, the new season will also feature Colman Domingo’s Dot, directed by Susan Stroman, as well as Indecent, a new play by Pulitzer Prize winner Paula Vogel, directed by Rebecca Taichman. Casting for all three productions will be announced later.Gigantic follows Robert as he is shipped off to Camp Overton, a Southern Pennsylvania weight-loss camp. There, he—along with a group of misfit teens—search for acceptance and more. The production will feature choreography by Chase Brock. It is set to run through December 20.Additionally, the Vineyard will present a developmental lab production of You Mean to Do Me Harm by Christopher Chen in June 2016. The 2016-17 season will kick off next fall with Kid Victory, a new musical by John Kander and Greg Pierce. Gigantic Show Closed This production ended its run on Dec. 20, 2015 View Comments
Following its recent Olivier Award nomination, Peter Pan Goes Wrong will return to the West End for the holiday season. The show, a spinoff of Mischief Theatre’s The Play That Goes Wrong, heads back to the Apollo Theatre from October 20 through January 29, 2017. The comedy concluded its first run at the venue on January 31 this year.Directed by Adam Meggido, Peter Pan Goes Wrong follows the members of The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society once again battle against technical hitches, flying mishaps and cast disputes on their way to Neverland with hilarious, disastrous results.Casting will be announced at a later date. View Comments
Taylor Louderman(Photo: Bruce Glikas) We are totally butt crazy about this idea! Taylor Louderman (Bring It On) and Dave Thomas Brown (Heathers) led a recent reading of the Clueless jukebox musical. Creator Amy Heckerling also revealed to MTV: “It’s as if the ’90s was one year, and we’re taking songs from the ’90s and playing with the lyrics to make them tell the story.” As previously reported, Rock of Ages director Kristin Hanggi will helm the tuner.Clueless is loosely based on Jane Austen’s Emma and follows Cher, a high school student in Beverly Hills who, alongside best friend Dionne (both named after famous singers of the post who now do infomercials), decide to take a transfer student under their wing. After giving her a makeover and playing matchmaker, Cher discovers that despite her popularity, she herself is in need of a makeover to find the relationship she longs for.The film starred Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, the late Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd and Wallace Shawn, who reprised his role as Mr. Hall in the recent workshop. View Comments