ROBIN’S SHOW REVIEW: Gore Vidal’s THE BEST MAN
Gore Vidal’s THE BEST MAN received 2012 Tony Award nominations for Best Revival of a Play as well as a Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play nomination for James Earl Jones. The critically-acclaimed production of Gore Vidal’s THE BEST MAN, which was originally scheduled to play through July 8, 2012, has been extended twice, now playing through this Sunday, September 9, 2012 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre (236 West 45th Street in NYC).
I had the opportunity to see it this week, and what a piece of work! A true tour de force performance by the captivating James Earle Jones as former president Arthur “Artie” Hockstader ….and others.
Several key players in the original cast have been replaced, but the new group is stellar. John Stamos, Kristin Davis, and Elizabeth Ashley all delivered, and then some. Cybill Shepherd also joined the cast, although she was absent from the performance I saw.
The play is about a presidential campaign convention in 1960 where easterner William Russell (John Larroquette) goes head to head with southerner Joe Cantwell (Stamos)…..two men of opposing convictions and beliefs in life, love and politics.
The script is sleek, wise and biting.
Stamos is high on facial expressions and tight body mannerisms as the young aspiring presidential wannabee, and Davis, in her Broadway debut, shows a different range compared her uptight role as Charlotte York of Sex and the City. She plays Mabel Cantwell, the tartlet of a wife married to Stamos, who thinks nothing of freely spouting her opinions and flaunting her gams.
Angelica Page, as Alice, Russell’s wife in what is presented as a sham of a marriage, was both prim’n proper, and spunky in an understated way.
Elizabeth Ashley as Sue-Ellen Gamage, chair of the party’s Women’s Division, is a colorful treat, and Jefferson Mays as the man who nearly helps bring down Cantwell, is effectively red-faced, nervous, sweaty, and engaging.
Gore Vidal’s THE BEST MAN also features MARK BLUM, CURTIS BILLINGS, COREY BRILL, TONY CARLIN, DONNA HANOVER, SHERMAN HOWARD, OLJA HRUSTIC, BILL KUX, JAMES LECESNE, DAKIN MATTHEWS, ANGELICA PAGE, FRED PARKER, Jr. and AMY TRIBBEY.
Director: Michael Wilson
Set designer: Derek McLane
Costume designer: Ann Roth
Lighting designer: Kenneth Posner
Music/sound designer: John Gromada
Projection designer: Peter Nigrini