Thursday, April 17, 2008

'God' stars in Broadway play

NYC -- After a Broadway absence of 18 years, Morgan Freeman, whose quiet grace, dignity and otherworldly calm enabled him to play God in two films, joins Frances McDormand and Peter Gallagher in director Mike Nichols' revival of the 1950 Clifford Odets' play about an alcoholic actor - The Country Girl.

Gallagher plays a director who had been a fan of the actor. McDormand, of "Fargo" and "Blood Simple" movie fame, plays Freeman's wife.

Considered Odets' best play, a revival of Awake and Sing! opened on Broadway two years ago this month.

The creative team talked about four high-profile types working together, the joys of live theater and whether long absences from the stage make it frightening to return.

"When I was a kid, I started reading plays; I don't know why. I read all the plays of O'Neill. I read all of Odets. ... I always wanted to [direct it]. ... It's about right now as much as then." -- Nichols

"The question most actors ask themselves after a long absence is, 'Where am I going to get it from? Does the machinery still work?' It's all about your confidence in yourself, and your confidence in someone else." -- Freeman

"Watching him on stage is an exercise in purity. ... there's a clear, spare honesty without any artifice. Who else can play God." -- Nichols on Freeman

A play is "[the one thing that has to be alive every time you do it. ... It's the idea that if you weren't there, you missed it. There is this thing that happens to us on stage, when it works, and to the audience ..." -- Nichols

"We're all aching for our story to be told. We're all aching to be recognized." -- Gallagher

"There are no small parts, only small actors. I'm at the point of my life when people want to try and look up to me. ... Don't do that. I'm not going to look down." -- Freeman

"If you don't look down, you're going to miss me." -- Gallagher

Come back soon for more creative conversations at the annual conference of The Broadway League. -- MichaelK

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