After last summer’s Off-Broadway production of OSLO at the Mitzi Newhouse won both the Lucille Lortel and the Obie, it’s been astounding to watch this spring as the Broadway production at the Vivian Beaumont has been awarded every Best Play citation of the season: the New York Drama Critics’ Circle, the Drama Desk, the Outer Critics Circle, and the Drama League. So, we were all on some pins and needles tonight, as there was stiff competition for the Tony from SWEAT, INDECENT, and A DOLL’S HOUSE, PART 2.
The majority of the cast and crew (who weren’t nominated and in attendance at Radio City) were gathered at the LCT viewing party at PJ Clarke’s, along with the cast and crew of the also-nominated LCT production of FALSETTOS. What a sweet and ecstatic eruption took place when John Lithgow read out, ‘OSLO’, as the winner of this year’s Tony Award for Best Play. The magic carpet ride continues…
After winning all of the Lucille Lortel awards for which it was nominated (Featured Actor, Leading Actress, Director, and Play), last summer’s Off-Broadway production of OSLO at the Mitzi Newhouse continues to rack ’em up, tonight winning the OBIE awards for Ensemble as well as Best New American Theatre Work.
Last night, the Lincoln Center Theater production of JT Rogers’ OSLO directed by Bartlett Sher opened on Broadway at the Vivian Beaumont Theater to an ovation and ecstatic reviews (‘…has become the colossus it was always meant to be…a thrilling production…’) and tonight, the very good Friday of Easter weekend, I made my Broadway debut in the role of Yossi Beilin.
You can’t make these things up.
We’d had an unusual preview period, already, with my pal Angela Pierce going on the first Sunday matinee (only the 4th public performance) for dear Henny Russell, stuck on a disabled 7 train in Queens. The following week, my buddy Jeff Still went on a few times for an ailing colleague, and, to our collective delight for him but our concerted dismay at the circumstance, he’s been playing the role ever since.
Tonight, I got the last-minute call-to-arms. We’re all exhausted, this show is a 3-hour monster, we’d just finished the long march to Opening, rehearsing all day then playing at night, I’d had my hefty fair share of bourbon to celebrate the occasion, then family in town for an unseasonably hot afternoon in the Park, I had not found that half-hour for a short snooze before the show,and then an hour before curtain, as I’m leaving home, my phone buzzed. Adam Dannheisser was stuck on a train in Jersey and we didn’t know if he’d get into the city in time. There’d been a power outage at Port Authority, coupled with a gun scare (turned out to be a taser) at Penn Station. I got to the theatre, we ran through one quick furniture move, and with fifteen minutes to go, our amazing ASM, Howie Tilkin, showed up to tell me, ‘He’s not gonna make it. You need to get dressed.’
Yowza. I’ve never understudied before, let alone covered four principal roles in a ‘colossus’ such as OSLO, never walked out, with no rehearsal, onto a Broadway stage and into the middle of a massive and finely-calibrated machine before a packed house expecting to be ‘thrilled’. It’s a testament to the strength of this acting company, to the leadership of Bart Sher, and to the crack stage management team that the evening was such a success. Across the street at P.J. Clarke’s, hoisting a few after the show, none of the friends and colleagues who were in the audience that night had any idea who the understudy was…and, Michael Aronov mentioned to me, ‘Dude, you were calmer than we were. After a while, we all forgot that an understudy was on.’ Glad and grateful to have done the job I was hired to do and, by all accounts, done it well. On to tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow!
Onstage with the great Jefferson Mays. Photos by my pal, T. Ryder Smith.
OSLO has been in rehearsal now for a few weeks, calibrating the show for the Vivian Beaumont Theater and the limited Broadway run this spring (April 13th ~ June 18th). The entire team of last summer’s Off-Broadway run at the Newhouse is back together, (with the addition of another actor to the ‘cover crew’, easing my load a bit. A bit.) In this pic from the rehearsal room, with everyone all in red in support of International Women’s Day, you can see how damn happy everyone is to be back together and headed to the Great White Way with this marvelous production. Get your tickets, now!
I’ve spent the past month on the gorgeous campus of Princeton University, playing ‘Tariq/Tim’ in the McCarter Theatre’s LAB Spotlight production of Heather Raffo’s NOURA, featuring the playwright, herself, along with Dahlia Azama and Haaz Sleiman. Sincerely grateful to the crack team at the McCarter for a most hospitable stay, as well as to photographer Brad Resnick for these images. It’s been a year since I began workshopping this piece, through incarnations at CSC, EpicTheatreEnsemble, and Noor Theatre here in the city, with jaunts to Kansas City Repertory and the Arab American Museum along the way. I’m now on to other scheduled projects, but wishing Heather and the gang much success as they forge NOURA’s future, beginning with the world premiere production at the Shakespeare Theatre in D.C. in 2018.
After a critically-acclaimed and sold-out run at the Mitzi Newhouse (closing 08/28), Lincoln Center Theater has decided to move ‘OSLO’ upstairs to the Vivian Beaumont and Broadway, next spring! I’ve accepted their invitation to continue ‘covering’ four of the principal male roles in the production: ‘Hassan Asfour’ (played by Dariush Kashani), ‘Ahmed Qurie’ (Anthony Azizi), ‘Uri Savir’ (Michael Aronov), and ‘Yossi Beilin’ (Adam Dannheisser).
For all the boards I’ve trod, I’d never ‘understudied’ before, and tackling these four roles has been a mammoth, gymnastic task. I’m grateful to LCT and to Bart Sher for the vote of confidence as they introduce J.T. Rogers’ stunning new play to New York.
In addition to the guys I cover, the company is chock-full of fantastic actors: Jennifer Ehle and Jefferson Mays, Daniel Jenkins, Henny Russell and T. Ryder Smith, Daniel Oreskes, Christopher McHale and Jeb Kreager, Angela Pierce, Joe Siravo, Jeff Still, and Jack Koenig. These are hearty, hardy New York actors, all…so, I don’t know how often I’ll be hitting the stage, myself, but follow me on twitter and Instagram for all the late-breaking news next spring!
I’ve been workshopping Heather Raffo‘s new play, NOURA, over the past several months as Tariq/Tim, Noura’s husband and Iraqi refugee. Monday, June 13th at 7pm, the work is featured in Classic Stage Company’s First Look Festival. This is an astounding new work. Get your tickets here and say you saw it first.
Thrilled to be spending the summer at Lincoln Center Theater, understudying a few choice roles in their production of J.T. Rogers’ new play about the peace negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis in the early 1990s in, yes, OSLO. A cast of fantastic actors, directed by Bart Sher…and, a juggling act I’ve never attempted before. Follow my twitterfeed to see if I go on! Yalla!
Spent the weekend workshopping Act One of Ismail Khalidi‘s latest, a commission from Noor Theatre exploring issues of race and citizenship in America, circa the First World War and amid the Syrian migrant/peddler community, who settled all over the South and West of these United States. The very next night, Noor won an Obie Award. Read the citation from the Obie judges and discover why this gorgeous company has bloomed over the last several years.
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