Today's post is on The Country Girl, now playing on Broadway. I was lucky enough to get last minute tickets to this play a few days before the night I attended and was so excited to see it because I am a big movie fan and this show happens to have 3 stars who I have often seen in film.
The Country Girl is a play written by Clifford Odets who originally started out as an actor in The Group Theater, a New York company of which he was one of the original founding members. Mr. Odets is most often remembered for his controversial subject matter and language that was not heard of before on the stage in the 1930's. His other plays including Paradise Lost, Lefty, Golden Boy, Rocket to the Moon, Clash by Night, The Big Knife and The Flowering Peach. Film credits include The General Died at Dawn, None but the Lonely heart, Humeresque, The Sweet Smell of Success and Story on Page One.
One of my all-time favorite actors is Morgan Freeman, last seen on Broadway about 23 years ago. Although he has played Broadway often earlier in his career, Mr. Freeman is best known for his appearances in films that include Driving Miss Daisy (Academy Award nomination) , The Shawshank Redemption (Academy Award nomination) , Kiss The Girls, Deep Impact, Million Dollar Baby ( for which he won a Best Supporting Actor Award) and so many more great films known to all of us movie fans.
Adding to this all star cast is the very talented Frances McDormand, playing the female lead in this show. She is most known for her outstanding Academy Award winning performance as Marge Gunderson in the film Fargo some years back. Although she graduated from Yale School of Drama and appeared in many stage successes like The Sister's Rosenzweig, The Swan at The Public Theater, and received a Tony nomination for her portrayal as Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire as well as played in many other plays around the world, I think it is interesting to make note of Ms. McDormand's incredible string of recent film successes, most recently for her roles in Mississippi Burning, Almost Famous and North Country. She was the recipient of three additional Academy Award nominations for these films.
Peter Gallagher rounds out this great cast as well. Mr. Gallagher has had a tremendously successful career in both stage and film, including his recent appearances on Broadway in Noises Off in 2001 and earned a Tony Award nomination for his performance in Long Day's Journey Into Night, starring opposite Jack Lemmon. He also had a starring role as Sky Masterson in the 1992 Tony Award winning revival of Guys and Dolls. Film credits include The Idolmaker, To Gillian on her 37th Birthday, American Beauty and several more that are quite well known.
Mike Nichols is the director of The Country Girl and he has won 8 Tony Awards as well as numerous awards for film as well. His 30 plus year career in the arts have established him as one of the world's leading directors not to mention that he has been responsible for the successes of many well known stage presentations such as Barefoot in the Park, The Apple Tree, The Knack, Luv, The Odd Couple, Plaza Suite, Prisoner of Second Avenue, The Gin Game, Monty Python's Spamalot and several others. Film credits include The Graduate, Working Girl, Silkwood, Postcards from the Edge, Regarding Henry and many more recognizable to all.
The Country Girl is a revival and the first major Broadway production in over 30 years. The title character's name is Frank Elgin, played by Mr. Freeman, who is a "down on his luck" former great stage star from many years before. Frank is now being offered the "comeback" role of his acting career by a boisterous "big shot" director by the name of Bernie Dodd, played wonderfully by Peter Gallagher, who recalls often how he really believes that "Frank can do a great job if he only gets the confidence to believe in himself again". Bernie "pulls" for Frank, who really seems more like a "best friend" to Frank than his director in the show. Frances McDormand plays Frank's wife "Georgie" and seems to be in charge of making sure that Frank doesn't start drinking again and also tries to keep his confidence going so everyone can make it to "rave"opening night reviews at the theatre.
This is really a "backstage story" about a married couple holding onto one another after years of mutual unhappiness. Will Frank overcome his past problems and even if he does, will Georgie want to still stay with him? Why is the director "Bernie"so intent on helping Frank make this very unlikely "comeback" to the stage? As I previously said, he seemed more like a best friend, not simply the director of a show. You would think the director would only be concerned with getting the most capable actor for the role right? Why take chances with Frank when other actors could make their show a "hit".
In the end my friends, I really enjoyed myself at this show. Is this the greatest script ever? Are there other actors who could have brought more life to these roles? Was the direction of this play the best I've seen for a play like this? Most of my friends and family know that I really enjoy the theatre, especially seeing movie stars playing to live Broadway audiences. I am never overly critical and even though I believe it would be interesting to see other talented actors playing the roles of Georgie, Frank and Bernie as well as other talented directors as well, The Country Girl is very worth the price of admission.
The show is a strictly limited engagement so if you are like me, and like to see great film stars playing in a live theatre venue, then do yourself a favor, get some tickets to see The Country Girl. I know you will be glad you did.
Stay tuned for my next blog on Boeing-Boeing, a funny new comedy I saw last night. I'd write about it now but I have to run now. I'm going to see my 5th Broadway show this week. See you soon in the theatre I hope. Bye for now.
Applause Theatre Service
311 west 43rd street, suite 601
web site: http://www.applause-tickets.com/