by Harry Haun
ON AGAIN LONERGAN: Playwright Kenneth Lonergan started small, Off-Broadway, but, ever since he copped the British and American Oscars for his Manchester by the Sea screenplay, three of his six Off-Broadway efforts have been upgraded to Main Stem stuff. This Is Our Youth, Lobby Hero and The Waverly Gallery were all Tony-nominated for Best Revival, and Elaine May, playing a variation of his grandmother in The Waverly Gallery, waltzed off with the actual award. . . . The next Lonergan to move uptown looks like it will be Hold on to Me Darling–as soon as Mark Ruffalo can extricate himself from a pretty Hulky film schedule. He will play the role that Timothy Olyphant originated at the Atlantic—a country-music star (“Strings McCrane,” no less) who returns to his roots for his mother’s funeral and some serious reassessment.. . . . He and Lonergan sorta made their stage and screen debuts together via This Is Our Youth and You Can Count on Me, and they’ve been circling for openings to do it again ever since. . . . Ruffalo was Lonergan’s first Good Luck Actor; his second is Michael Cera, who made all three of his Broadway outings and even nabbed a Tony nomination for Lobby Hero. And there just happens to be a perfect part made to order for him in Hold on to Me Darling—Strings’ worshipful, almost smitten go-fer who’s “right on the corner of Beck and Call”—but the rub is that Keith Dobbs did a great job of it already Off-Broadway. Que cera cera.
EXIT THE PREXY: The day it was announced that Hillary and Clinton: The Play with Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow would be ending its Broadway run in a week, Hillary and Clinton: The Actual People showed up at Alice Tully Hall to lend star-spangled sparkle to the Irish Rep’s 30th Anniversary Gala. He was there being honored for his work on the Good Friday Agreement. . . . Charlotte Moore and Ciaran O’Reilly, who’ve run the company since Day One, trotted out quite an array of talent to entertain the President and the Near-President, starting with Judy Collins, Nathan Gunn, Melissa Errico and Max von Essen. . . . This unexpectedly early closing of Hillary and Clinton spared Lithgow the awkward spectacle of maintaining two Presidencies at the same time. As it played out, he had only a day to turn his Bill Clinton into Donald J. Trump for a one-night-only livestreaming of The Investigation: A Search for the Truth in 10 Acts. . . . By any other name, this would be the 448-page Mueller Report reduced to a 70-minute reading by Robert Schenkkan, who won a Tony for creating LBJ (All the Way) for Bryan Cranston. . . . A host of working Broadway actors spent their night off at Riverside Church on the Upper West Side doing the deed: All My Sons’ Annette Bening, Frankie and Johnny’s Michael Shannon, To Kill a Mockingbird’s Frederick Weller, etc. There were reports of some all-star scene-stealing in the supporting ranks—notably from Jason Alexander’s Chris Christie and Joel Grey’s Jeff Sessions. . . . So where do you go after two Presidents? Lithgow has gone to Roger Ailes, the predatory Fox News boss, in an untitled feature not to be confused with the current Russell Crowe mini-series. The multiple choices of Lithgow’s Ailes include Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, Alice Eve, Charlize Theron, Kate McKinnon, Allison Janney and Connie Britton. A Clockwork Orange’s Malcolm McDowell drops by in a role that just won Bertie Carvel the Tony (for Ink): Rupert Murdoch. Look for it under your Christmas tree this year. . . . Currently, you’ll find Lithgow in theaters, paired with Blythe Danner in The Tomorrow Man as wannabe romantics on the wrong side of 60 who, says the press release, “try to find love without getting lost in each other’s stuff.”
SITTING PRETTY: Now that the Broadway herd has thinned so sharply, it’s fun to see the utterly unnominated Pretty Woman: The Musical getting the last laugh, crowing that it’s “the highest grossing and longest running new musical of the 2018-2019 Broadway season.” . . . Come Aug. 18, it too will go the way of all shows. . . Its title tune–a.k.a. “Oh, Pretty Woman,” the hit record written and recorded by the late Roy Orbison—will be 55 years old on Aug. 1, and, to mark the spot, Orbison’s sons (Alex on drums and Wesley on guitar) showed up at the curtain call and gave the song a lively, authentic rendering. The tune was added to the show in late June. Orfeh and Eric Anderson start it off, then the chorus takes it over, and eventually Samantha Banks and Andy Karl come in to grab a line at the end. It seemed to satisfy the audience. . . . The Orbison song was plucked out of nowhere to put a pretty face on the film. Its original title was 3000 (which was the going rate for Julia Roberts in 1990.) . . . And, yes, the scene when Richard Gere snaps the necklace case shut and she laughs—one of the most famous star-making moments in film history—was an improvisation.