After more than a month of robust activity, it feels as if the local theater scene is about to take a brief hiatus. Blues in the Night
at the Black Rep and Little Shop of Horrors
at Stages are both closing this weekend. After this weekend The Lady from Dubuque
returns to that netherworld where Edward Albee's heroines hang out between engagements. The much-lauded Opera Theatre season winds down on Saturday.
Meanwhile Noel Coward's Waiting in the Wings
at Act, Inc.
, charming though it is, takes a breather this weekend so that the little-known Heroes
, the second play in this summer's Act, Inc. season, can join the repertory.
By way of background, Heroes
is a French play that has been
adapted into English by the indefatigable Tom (is there no stopping
this man?) Stoppard. The story plays out in a home for retired veterans
of World War I. The original London production in 2005 featured John
Hurt, Richard Griffiths (who later found success on Broadway in The History Boys
and this past season returned to Broadway in Equus
opposite that Harry Potter boy) and Ken Stott.
Stott is the name you might not know. He is a marvelously skillful
film actor from Scotland who has not bothered to become a star in
America - which is our loss, not his. But (and granted, this has
nothing to do with seeing Heroes
at Act, Inc. this weekend or
again July 10-12) if you'd like to make his acquaintance, you should
track down the DVDs of Jim Sheridan's The Boxer
, in which Stott plays Daniel Day-Lewis' punchy, alcoholic trainer, and David Yates' The Girl in the Café
where Stott is England's Chancellor of the Exchequer. The two roles
could not be more disparate, yet Stott is natural and memorable in both.
Also this weekend Avalon Theatre
opens a three-week run of William Luce's one-man play Barrymore
with John Contini enacting the Great Profile. The original Broadway
production in 1997 (was it really twelve years ago?) proved a grand
triumph for Christopher Plummer, who writes glowingly of the experience
in his expansive new memoir, In Spite of Myself
And if attending Barrymore
impels you to want to see the real thing, there's still a smattering of the Barrymore aura in the classic MGM films Grand Hotel
and Dinner at Eight
. He's at his most hilarious in Twentieth Century
and the little-known Midnight
, a 1939 screwball comedy written by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett, now available on DVD and waiting to be discovered.
Finally, a reminder that Annie
at the Muny
has an extended run. It continues through next Tuesday night.
Twelve-year-old Abigail Isom brings a sense of conviction and simple
truth to the title role. Conviction and truth are not qualities we
associate with what is essentially a cartoon musical, and they help to
make this Annie
more refreshing than it's seemed in a long time.