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Offering a fresh way of helping you keep up with art and entertainment happenings around the Capital District.

Friday, January 21, 2011

the cruel world of show business

You might remember the delightful production of "Cactus Flower" that was produced at Capital Repertory Theatre last Oct.-Nov. It was a charming effort that proved the Abe Burrows work is not as dated as conventional wisdom thought.


Obviously not. Playbill.com reports the work is moving to New York City and will be produced Off-Broadway at the Westside Theate on 43 Street. Previews begin Feb. 24 for a scheduled March 10 opening. By the way, tickets will cost $75, which is nearly double the average ticket price at Capital Rep.


The move illustrates why so many actors are neurotic. Despite fine work and excellent reviews the male lead Don Noble is being replaced by Maxwell Caulfield. Caulfield might not be a Broadway star but he is much better known in NY theater circles than is Noble - who though he did a stint in "Mamma Mia" is thought of as a regional theater actor. By the way, I should add Noble is a really good actor. Area audiences might also recognize him from his excellent portrayal of Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird" at Cap Rep last spring.


Good is not always the criteria for being cast in New York. Box office appeal is the main criteria. I am not suggesting Caulfield cannot do the role, but I don't know that he is a superior actor to Noble. His major theater credit is work in the Tony-nominated play "An Inspector Calls." I suppose the press promotion will also point out Caulfield came to attention for his work as the lead in the film "Grease 2." I suspect Caulfield would rather let that credit fade away.


The good news is Lois Robbins continues as the female lead. She was terrific at Capital Rep and she and producer/director Michael Bush have a professional history of working together. Robbins is a diligent actress who is devoted to the stage, even though she gained her public persona from a lot of work on various daytime soaps, especially "Ryan's Hope."


Also continuing in New York is Robin Skye who was fantastic as the comic client at Julian's dental office. Let's hope this gig gets both Robbins and Skye the public acclaim each deserves.


John Herrera, a respected character actor on New York City stages also continues in the role of the older diplomat who courts Robbins.


Not appearing in New York is Toni Trucks who was a charmer in the role of the ditsy young woman who is having an affair with Julian but wants to make right with Julian's non-existent wife. (It's complicated - but that's farce.) Anyway don't feel bad for Trucks, she was cast in an important role in the next film of the Twilight series. That's a better career move than Off-Broadway.


This is nothing new in theater. Business decisions ofter negate good work and actors who create a role are pushed aside for financial reasons. All this proves is that theater is a tough business and great work is not always rewarded by producers.

One thing that does bother me about the move is that in any of the press I've seen about the New York opening work Capital Rep is neglected. Their help in shaping this play is never credited. Indeed, there is no mention of the Albany run. That's wrong, because it's the kind of notice that would help Capital Rep's national reputation.

I would hope producer Michael Bush somewhere along the line gives some credit to Capital Rep. It is not overstating the case that this Off-Broadway production would not be happening without Capital Rep and area audiences who proved the material deserves a larger audience.

I hope Cap Rep doesn't suffer the same unfair fate as Don Noble.

2 Comments:

Blogger Katy said...

I saw Don Noble in the Broadway Touring Show of "Mamma Mia" and fell in love with him, his acting, and his voice. A few years later while sitting in the theater watching the MOVIE production of "Mamma Mia," I actually put my hands over my ears when Pierce Bronson sang out the words, "Donna let's try it," during "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do," not so much because this was the worst of the songs Mr. Bronson attempted, but simply out of respect for what I remember of Don Noble's totally wonderful performance on tour. Why no one wisks Mr. Noble off to Broadway or to Hollywood is beyond my level of comprehension.

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