Sunday, April 21, 2024

Sir Ian McKellen Approves: Trudie Styler Scores an Off Broadway Hit with “The Seagull”


No less than Sir Ian McKellen gave tonight’s opening of “The Seagull” off Broadway his stamp of approval. Sir Ian has appeared in “The Seagull” five times, and in Chekhov’s “Wild Honey” on Broadway. He pronounced Max Stafford Clark’s new production at the Culture Project-45 Bleecker Street as his “favorite” so far. The New York Times also gave the production and star Trudie Styler high marks. They’re all correct.

With Sting front and center, Sir Ian a row behind, director Paul Haggis in the house, and a very theater centric crowd for opening night, Styler more than acquitted herself as Isobel–renamed for this Irish translation by Thomas Kilroy. The play is only for a month at the Culture Project, so hurry down there. Styler, trained at the Royal Shakespeare Company, is an absolute hit.

Sting said to me at the small dinner after opening night: “I ruined Trudie’s career when she met me.” That was over 30 years ago. “She was a real actress, and she left it all,” he said. “Now she’s back.”

The rest of the cast is superb too.

Chief among them are two “legacy” actors: Amanda Quaid, daughter of Randy, is superb as the renamed Mary (from Masha); and Alan Cox, son of Brian, is perfect as Aston, her lover with fickle tastes.

The Kilroy transition from Russia to Galway, Ireland is especially interesting. Chekhov adapts easily and almost seems more natural in this environment. His snappy and snappish play seems more rueful than ever. Styler plays rage to humor to irony with superior timing. Her character’s ability to connect with everyone except her own son is really ironic, too, considering in real life she has four children and two stepkids, all of whom adore her.

And what a month for the Gordon Sumners– Sting had his triumphant 10 shows at the Public Theater followed by Styler’s success tonight. And let me tell you–he will be in the audience most nights this month, cheering Trudie on. Bravo!


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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