Thursday, March 22, 2007

Inherit the Wind

For most people, Inherit the Wind will always be that stodgy little play they read in their junior year of high school. Those who hold this opinion have obviously never seen it on stage. In its current Broadway mounting, capably directed by Doug Hughes, it proved to be one of the most enthralling and captivating evenings of theatre I've ever had. I'm sure it helps that this production is headed by two of the greatest dramatic lions alive, Christopher Plummer and Brian Dennehy, who are truly offering a master class in the true technique of acting. Dennehy's fiery and self-righteous Matthew Harrison Brady is matched toe-to-toe by Plummer's riveting Henry Drummond (I see another Tony on his mantle come June). Their courtroom scene, including a blistering interrogation of Dennehy by Plummer, are the kind of edge-of-your-seat moments that are largely missing on Broadway today. Sharing the stage are Denis O'Hare, whose eternal schtick is finally appropriate as yellow journalist E.K. Hornbeck, and the invaluable Byron Jennings, rousingly channeling Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell as the holier-than-thou Reverand Brown. The other star of the evening is Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee's truly marvelous text, which simply dances out of the mouths of these actors. Quite a feat for a play now largely relegated to high school classrooms and drama club presentations.

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