Since it's Thanksgiving week, I'd like to write about someone to whom I owe a debt of gratitude: The Coast of Utopia's director, Jack O'Brien. Of all the fine performances being given during this enterprise, the one that audiences will never see is the one he is giving back stage. By calling his behavior a performance I do not mean to suggest that his tireless activity is somehow insincere. Too many times I've seen his joviality turn suddenly dead-serious, and the first time actors experience this shift can be a little disorienting.
No, I mean simply that, at least backstage, Jack is every bit as entertaining as the actors. (So many of the best directors are, whether like Mike Nichols they have been actors themselves or whether they could have been had they not inherited a gene for bossiness.) Sometimes Jack's comedy is in his off-kilter observations: one day, he referred to a scene of delicately phrased political shouting in Shipwreck as a "shrapnel soufflé"; I got such a case of the church giggles that I had to leave the room. Other times, Jack's gift is in his movement: at the first rehearsal for the big party scene in Voyage, he demonstrated the servants' subtle gambols past the lamps with such aplomb I swore Astaire was there. [...]
William Grimes of the NY Times writes an article on The Coast of Utopia with suggested books for pre-reading. There's also a multimedia slideshow that is absolutely beaut- Jack O'Brien narrates over a bunch of stills from the production (some including Jennifer Ehle).
Over at BroadwayWorld the peoples are saying nice things about Voyage and that you should get tix before the official opening on Nov 27. Ignore the blog pimping, svp.