Monday, December 04, 2006

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio

Last season my friend Kevin Manganaro and I, both big Julianne Moore fans, were sitting at Junior’s in Brooklyn discussing how we wouldn’t likely see Ms. Moore on the stage anytime soon. See, Moore had often discussed in interviews how she didn’t like to do the same thing twice—multiple takes annoyed her; we reasoned that doing the same show eight times a week would be worse than doing three crying takes. A week later she was announced for The Vertical Hour.

I have never enjoyed any David Hare play I sat through or read. While I wasn’t bored by Stuff Happens, I felt it wasn’t really a play. And the rest of his canon has just generally made me want to sleep. So I wasn’t thinking I’d love it, but I thought that it would receive good reviews (The Times loves Hare, I naively reasoned) and I was semi-confident she would be somewhat well-received. I believed she would be rewarded for being better than Broadway’s last celebrity, Julia Roberts. This is of course all before The Vertical Hour started performances. I tend to think if Vertical Hour had opened right after Three Days of Rain, Moore would have received better reviews that she did when it opened last week. But, that’s not what happened. And, while she did receive some positive notices, her performance rightly won’t go down in the history books as much of anything. Even critics who liked Moore, spent more time focusing on the acclaimed performance of her co-star, Bill Nighy.

Was it a bad move for her to come to Broadway? And, more importantly, will others see her Broadway run as a bad move? I ask this last question because it has been a while since Antonio Banderas was lauded for Nine. The reception received by Denzel Washington, Roberts and Moore doesn’t exactly encourage celebrities to flock to the Great White Way. (I won't consider Hugh Jackman in this discussion because he was known to be a stage actor.) Indeed, I know of one major celebrity who was looking for a project for next season and is now being advised by agents to wait a little bit. Alas. (I refuse to answer those of you who respond to these sort of things by saying, “Good, more work for a real stage actor.” Because it must be understood that many worthy projects will simply never be produced or revived without a celebrity.)

I tend to think overall celebrities will do what they want—if they really want to come to Broadway, they are not going to care what was said of Julianne Moore in a snoozer play. Their agents might care for a minute, but, there is a “well, we can still rock it” egotism involved that often wins out. And, of course, critics should not go easy on celebrities just because it could mean a better chance of seeing Brad Pitt next season. But it is interesting to consider what current reviews do in fact mean to seemingly unrelated projects in development.

I just realized that the majority of you are probably bored by this. And it’s 7:49am and I haven’t been to bed yet, so, I’m done.

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