Tuesday, April 16, 2024

“X Men” on Broadway: Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart Score a Huge Success in Pair of Plays


Liv Tyler and Orlando Bloom (Arwen, and Legolas Greenleaf to you) came to celebrate Gandalf. Others came to cheer on the “X Men.” But everyone at yesterday’s and last night’s double Broadway bill of Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart got the thrill of a lifetime and the best that theater can offer. The two actors, along with Billy Crudup and Shuler Hensley, star in Harold Pinter’s “No Man’s Land” and Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot.” Let’s skip to the end of the story first: rave reviews in the New York Times.

You can see them separately or together, but I recommend the two plays in a day. They have a lot to do with each other thematically. It’s also an exhilarating experience to see these four brilliant talents put on the plays. Not only them– but the lighting (Tony winner Peter Kaczorowski in his 50th and 51st Broadway openings), set design, costumes– all of it is exceptional. Sean Mathias directed both plays. I can tell you it’s amazing to leave “No Man’s Land” with its vault like clubby set and return two hours later to outdoor rubble of “Godot.” And please, let’s pronounce it correctly– GOD-oh.

Mathias has made the two plays into existential comedies with touches of Charlie Chaplin. The actors are up to the task, particularly Crudup and Hensley in “Godot.” But throughout the two plays, it’s Sir Ian and Sir Patrick who are just peas in a pod, good pals who turn their respective relationships in each play into magic. You can’t get enough of them.

Some others in the audience and at the party following at the Bryant Park Grill: Mickey Sumner, Alan Cumming, Richard Kind, Dan Stevens (Matthew from “Downton Abbey”), Joseph Cross, Nathan Lane, our favorite rocker Patti Smith, Luke Evans and the amazing Tony winner/Oscar nominee Janet McTeer, who drove down from Maine with husband Joe Coleman just catch this unique day of theater.

At the party, both Sirs Ian and Patrick asked me the same question when I told them I’d say through the two plays: “Are you exhausted?” To which I replied, “Aren’t you? You were in them.” They were not, because, you know, they’re X Men.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
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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