Broadway Winter 2013/Spring 2014 Guide
by Whitney Spaner, 12/09/2013
Photo: Joan Marcus
James Lapine is one half of one of the most successful Broadway duos in recent memory; he collaborated with Stephen Sondheim on critically acclaimed and crowd-pleasing musicals like Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods and Passion. As such, he seems an obvious choice to adapt and direct Moss Hart's seminal 1959 theater memoir Act One. Hart was a director and playwright, and a large section of his book chronicles the relationship between him and George S. Kaufman, his mentor and writing partner. The pair wrote wildly popular plays like Hart's first Broadway hit Once in a Lifetime (a satire about Hollywood, the creation of which is the focus of the play), You Can't Take It with You and The Man Who Came to Dinner. Lapine's adaptation—which has the approval of Hart's children—features three actors playing Hart in different phases of his life. Matthew Schechter plays a young Hart growing up poor in the Bronx; the rising Broadway star Santino Fontana is Hart as an ambitious, theater-loving young man; and Tony Shalhoub, who's been a staple on Broadway since his award-winning TV show Monk ended in 2009, takes on the intriguing double role of Kaufman in earlier scenes when Fontana plays the young playwright, and then Hart himself near the end of his life as he's writing Act One. As most theater aficionados know, the story of Hart's life is filled with enough drama and emotion to be just as big of a success on the Great White Way as his plays—giving his life story a second act.
Vivian Beaumont Theatre, 150 W. 65th St. In previews; opens April 17.