Friday, July 29, 2005

The great white bray

Despite no theatre experience, Julia Roberts will make her Broadway debut next year in Richard Greenberg's "Three Days of Rain."

No doubt seats will fill instantly to see whether or not her wattage survives the trauma of being in front of a live Broadway audience. Hard to say. I don't think she's much of an actress, but she's certainly a movie star with movie-star charisma. Is that enough (or too much) for a three-person stage drama? She's a natural in front of people, but that's when she's talking to and at them -- think Oprah or the red carpet or the Oscars. What happens when she has to work in front of 500 people who sit silently in the dark, when she doesn't have the big-screen smile and voice? And what if that donkey laugh of hers turns out to be obnoxious in a Broadway theater (well, as if it isn't already on screen)?

I tend to think she'll do OK. I want her to do OK; I don't like her as an actress, but she seems like a swell person. But in the Times' article, Roberts says, "By the time I get there, I'll be entirely apoplectic. But the terror is part of the excitement." Is it? Or will it just result in a wavery voice and flubbed lines and extreme sweating? Either way, I hope she goes backstage at the Walter Kerr Theatre to ask her Erin Brockovich co-star Cherry Jones (below left) for some tips on treading the boards.

In the linked article, notice how "Doubt" director Doug Hughes praises Jones for her "commitment to transformation rather than the projection of a winning personality." Hmm...

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