Present Laughter Broadway Kevin Kline
St James Theatre
Legendary Academy Award and Tony Award winner Kevin Kline makes his eagerly awaited return to Broadway in Noël Coward’s outrageously irresistible backstage comedy.
Opened Apr 05 2017 – Closing Jul 02, 2017
Present Laughter is a comic play written by Noël Coward in 1939 and first staged in 1942 on tour, alternating with his lower middle-class domestic drama This Happy Breed. Later Coward’s new play Blithe Spirit was added to the repertory for the tour. The play’s title comes from a song in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, which urges carpe diem (“present mirth hath present laughter”), and so the word present in the title should be pronounced as the adjective /prezənt/, not the verb /prezent/.
The plot follows a few days in the life of the successful and self-obsessed light comedy actor Garry Essendine as he prepares to travel for a touring commitment in Africa. Amid a series of events bordering on farce, Garry has to deal with women who want to seduce him, placate both his long-suffering secretary and his estranged wife, cope with a crazed young playwright, and overcome his fear of middle-age (he has recently turned forty) and, by implication, his impending mid-life crisis. The story was described by Coward as “a series of semi-autobiographical pyrotechnics”.
Coward starred as Garry Essendine in Present Laughter during the original run. Later productions have featured actors such as Albert Finney, Peter O’Toole, Simon Callow and Ian McKellen in the lead role. The play has enjoyed numerous revivals in Europe and North America – including a U.S. tour in 1958 with Coward reprising the Essendine role.
Sir Noël Peirce Coward 1899 – was an English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer, known for his wit, flamboyance, and what Time magazine called “a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise”.
Born in Teddington, south-west London, Coward attended a dance academy in London as a child, making his professional stage début at the age of eleven. As a teenager he was introduced into the high society in which most of his plays would be set.
Coward achieved enduring success as a playwright, publishing more than 50 plays from his teens onwards. Many of his works, such as Hay Fever, Private Lives, Design for Living, Present Laughter and Blithe Spirit, have remained in the regular theatre repertoire. He composed hundreds of songs, in addition to well over a dozen musical theatre works (including the operetta Bitter Sweet and comic revues), screenplays, poetry, several volumes of short stories, the novel Pomp and Circumstance, and a three-volume autobiography. Coward’s stage and film acting and directing career spanned six decades, during which he starred in many of his own works.
Kevin Kline – Garry Essendine
Kate Burton – Liz Essendine
Kristine Nielsen – Monica Reed
Cobie Smulders – Broadway Debut – Joanna Lyppiatt
Matt Bittner – Broadway Debut – Fred
Ellen Harvey – Miss Erikson
Peter Francis James – Henry Lyppiatt
Tedra Millan – Broadway Debut – Daphne Stillington
Bhavesh Patel – Roland Maule
Reg Rogers – Morris Dixon
Sandra Shipley – Lady Saltburn
Understudies: Kelley Curran (Daphne Stillington, Joanna Lyppiatt, Lady Saltburn, Miss Erikson, Monica Reed), Rachel Pickup (Daphne Stillington, Lady Saltburn, Liz Essendine, Miss Erikson, Monica Reed), James Riordan (Fred, Garry Essendine, Henry Lyppiatt, Morris Dixon) and David L. Townsend (Fred, Henry Lyppiatt, Morris Dixon, Roland Maule)
Written by Noël Coward
Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel
Scenic Design by David Zinn
Costume Design by Susan Hilferty
Lighting Design by Justin Townsend
Sound Design by Fitz Patton
Hair Design by Josh Marquette
Associate Scenic Design: Tim McMath
Associate Costume Design: Tricia Barsamian
Associate Lighting Design: Kirk Fitzgerald
Associate Sound Design: Patrick LaChance and Shannon Slaton
Associate Hair Design: Sabana Majeed
Makeup Consultant: Milagros Medina-Cerdeira
Video from Roundabout 2011 Production staring Victor Garber