Richard and I saw this play on Broadway on 1/5. Can you believe that Richard had never seen the movie? I love the movie and was eager to see the play, mostly for the cast: Laurie Metcalf in the Kathy Bates role, and Bruce Willis making his Broadway debut in the James Caan role. With a script by William Goldman, who had also written the screenplay.
It was a lot of fun. Lots of underscoring, which would usually annoy me, but it made sense in this case, it heightened the storybook quality. The set was wonderful, it was a full 360 turntable, often the set would do a 180 showing someone going from one end of the house to another.
Let's talk about the performances. Laurie Metcalf was extraordinary. You'd think she'd have a hard time overcoming memories of the sublime Kathy Bates, but the part is so rich and quirky, it stands up to another interpretation. Like Hamlet or Mama Rose. She brought together all of the differing aspects of the character: the sweetness, the heartbreak, the mania, the sadism. It all worked together and she wasn't afraid to go too far.
Bruce Willis. What to say about Bruce Willis. He gave a thoroughly professional performance. Richard put it perfectly: you could have any reasonably good actor playing that role, the starring role is really the woman, and he just plays off of her. A funny thing to say about what's basically a two-character play, but there you have it.
The audience was clearly there to see him. I walked past the theater a month or so ago, right after it had started previews. There were probably over a hundred people crowded outside the stage door. Laurie Metcalf walked out and about eight people applauded, it was sort of pitiful. Richard and I both noticed that the opening of the play was clearly directed in a way that would prevent the audience from applauding for Willis: the music, the lighting, the long wait before he spoke - - it all drew the audience in, yet deliberately took away that POW moment of the star reveal.
One last thing: some members of the audience were laughing at inappropriate moments. I love hearing uncomfortable laughter, it's a sign that a show is working on a number of levels.