Oscar winner Forest Whitaker makes his Broadway debut in the revival of Eugene O'Neill's classic drama. More…
1928. New York City. A hotel lobby. A small-time gambler and big-time drinker makes his way back to Room 492. With a new night clerk on duty, he is forced to confront his personal demons and discover the real end to his own story. 'Hughie' is about the loneliness and redemption of one man chasing the American Dream.
This production also features Tony Award winner Frank Wood and is directed by the Tony and Olivier Award-winning director Michael Grandage.
“Erie is portrayed by that excellent actor Forest Whitaker, in a transfixing yet modest Broadway debut.…Mr. Whitaker quietly breaks your heart…I hope his performance isn’t under-appreciated because it lacks showy bravado…'Hughie' feels as vaporous as smoke, though the kind that might come from an opium pipe...you could glean its shape and substance in a 20-minute reading of the script. But you wouldn’t feel the full mortal ache and ghostly chill that this production summons.” Full Review
"I was spellbound by Whitaker’s acting. I find it a delight to watch some of Hollywood’s finest actors taking their talents to live theater so that we are treated to their gifts without studio magic. Whitaker fully immersed himself in Erie Smith with the perfect old school native New Yorker accent and all the braggadocio anyone can fill within an hour of a dominating conversation about oneself. Whitaker’s performance was pure magic." Full Review
"Director Michael Grandage has taken an unconventional approach in presenting this small-scale work by creating tremendous imagery with theatrical stagecraft that inventively and faithfully realizes the material...This production of 'Hughie' vividly fulfills O’Neill’s intentions with its inspired physical representation and engrossing performances." Full Review
“What a quietly satisfying, touching pleasure this production turns out to be…Whitaker brings a buoyant, sweet, almost delicate sensibility…It is hard to imagine a more compelling, almost silent, witness than Frank Wood as the new clerk. With little more than a disbelieving blink and a dry stare, Wood dares us not to acknowledge this as a two-character drama.” Full Review
“Grandage lets it breathe and the actors make it work as a parable about connecting and disconnecting in modern life. By the time the clock hits 4 a.m. and the sun peeks out, there's something deeply satisfying about this little play, which O'Neill himself may never have expected anyone to actually mount on a stage. Thank goodness it has been, especially with Whitaker in the lead role.” Full Review
“The hour-long show passes quickly, and as Erie’s stories get bigger, the man himself seems to get smaller…‘Hughie’ exacts complex, commendable performances from its two leads, both effectively carrying the show’s study into a man’s need for success, both real and perceived. There’s only so much a shorter show like this can answer — I was left wanting to know more about both Erie and the night clerk after I left for the night — but it’s still a hotel stay you won’t regret." Full Review
“No one captured urban isolation on canvas better than Hopper, and if he’d ever decided to paint the now slightly crumbling lobby of a hotel in Times Square this ‘Hughie’ as designed by Oram and directed by Grandage would be it…The Oscar-winning [Whitaker] delivers a most endearing Erie, right down to the nervous giggle…That kind of vital sign is completely missing in Wood’s equally disturbing night clerk.” Full Review
"Together and separately, they’re more than fine actors; they’re poets equal to O’Neill’s poeticism...I wasn’t sure what I thought of the show until a few days after I’d seen it...But later I remembered Whitaker’s gracefulness...Erie is a white character played by a black man, and the complications inherent in that casting keep the production contemporary and important. Nothing significant happens in 'Hughie' except theatre--and the creative lives of its actors." Full Review
“British director Michael Grandage emphasizes the play's bleak intimacy here…Whitaker makes his character worthy of compassion…But brings an awkward sweetness that makes his desperation not only pitiable but accessible…Erie's struggles, like his flaws, are above all human, and will resonate with anyone who catches this gently moving production." Full Review
"Despite how much of an outlier it is in the O’Neill oeuvre, it is a delicate, late-career masterpiece currently receiving a fine Broadway revival with Forest Whitaker in the lead role...Excellent performances notwithstanding, the best part of this 'Hughie' is Christopher Oram’s stunning set, dominated by a looming, grand staircase...Despite a bit of directorial interference, this production deserves full marks for its courage to embrace the play as it is given to us." Full Review
"If Whitaker is guilty of anything on stage, it’s portraying Erie as perhaps too kind and affable...Still, whether his character is processing a difficult emotion, concocting his next tall tale, or fumbling though a pocket of I.O.U.’s, Whitaker is fascinating to watch...As Whitaker takes the stage and goes on what is ostensibly a 50-minute monologue, Wood delivers a masterclass in the difficult art of active non-listening." Full Review
"Well worth seeing, thanks to its extremely talented, multiple award-winning cast and creative team. It is a definite star vehicle that provides an opportunity for Whitaker to transfer his formidable cinematic talents to the New York stage...Whitaker has a natural warmth and charm that serve his character well. His Erie is both believable and touching; as sympathetic as he is pathetic.." Full Review
“With his sleepy eyes, soulful voice and fluttering hands, Whitaker is a superb actor who can wear sorrow like a baggy overcoat. However, as watchable as he is, the real star of Michael Grandage's production is the design team…Grandage and his team of frequent collaborators have honored the inherent theatricality of the slender piece while fortifying it with an immersive cinematic presentation.” Full Review
"'Hughie' offers a devastating look at loneliness and our need for someone to look up to us in order to make ourselves appear more important than we actually are...Whitaker seemed relatively comfortable as Erie...A major problem in the play is with the role of the Night Clerk...Grandage is unable to make the almost different planes of existence Erie and Charlie inhabit effectively merge. Despite the problems in its execution, O’Neill’s messages still shine through powerfully." Full Review
"Whitaker imbues Eerie’s showboating with impressive understatement. He has a lovely physical refrain, a kind of shuffled pirouette of a jig…The night I saw it, there was that sense of every consciousness in the auditorium merging into one rapt and receptive cell. It was a moment of magic, of palpable pure attention. That kind of spellbound state cannot be forced, so it’s curious that Grandage would have chosen to intersperse the play with several heavy-handed interludes.” Full Review
"It's a kick to see Whitaker take on this 1920s New York charmer. He's a true pleasure to watch in the role, showing a lot of heart and humor...Wood is perfect...Under Grandage's direction, 'Hughie' is a robust production of a slight play. As a portrait of a raconteur realizing that he may be losing his touch, it is compelling during its slim 60 minutes...To be transported to this bit of old New York is a nice treat but still may not feel like a completely fulfilling evening of theater." Full Review
"Forest Whitaker is an imposing stage presence, yet even he appears weary and small in the cavernous set. In the capable hands of director Michael Grandage, it's amusing to watch him caper around the stage...At first I thought Whitaker's stilted, start and stop delivery was symptomatic of him struggling with the text...But once you settle into the tragic restlessness of the character, his affect drives O’Neill’s circuitous cadences home...Overall, the play is a simple but poignant rumination." Full Review
"He gives an impressive performance as the sketchy Erie...The production is directed by Michael Grandage with a dream-like quality...The play is drawn out and repetitive leaving you wondering whether you have fallen asleep and are in a dream. Dare I question one of the great contributors of the American theatrical canon?" Full Review
“There’s not really much of an arc to this one-hour play, which is essentially an extended monologue…Both actors have their best moments during this tug of wills. Wood makes Charlie’s silence seem both menacing and merciless, while Whitaker lays bare Erie’s terror…there’s no pretending that ‘Hughie’ is much more than a warm-up for ‘Iceman’, a far more devastating study of life as living death.” Full Review
“Whitaker delivers a thoroughly amiable and thoughtful performance…The problem with Whitaker's approach, however, is that it's a shallow one… moments are angled so wide that they become arid, not rich, and feel more like filler…Although Whitaker is not there yet, he may still make it. The energy, resourcefulness, and raw ability he shows here suggest it's a distinct possibility. But right now, like Erie, Whitaker is potential and fantasies unrealized, underutilized, and underwhelming.” Full Review
“Whitaker's inexperience is clearly evident throughout the first two-thirds of the evening…Yet as we come toward the end Whitaker suddenly comes to life. The artifice in his line readings virtually disappears…Whitaker's physicality is extremely surefooted and thoroughly heartbreaking...If only he could get the first half of his performance up to the level of the second, this 'Hughie' would be a safe bet.” Full Review
"If you want to see one of the world’s great film stars take on live acting, hurry to the box office because Whitaker’s performance is deft, subtle and as comfortable as a pair of old sneakers...The performance is what you expect from a master of the theatrical arts...I really wanted to love this production, but sadly, O’Neill’s work isn’t on a par with his more famous plays...Whitaker deserves a better result here, but the early closing isn’t his fault. I blame Eugene O’Neill." Full Review
"It’s hard to maintain momentum in a play that is largely a series of monologues by the same character... In addition to pacing, the play’s dated vernacular may also be an impediment to fully identifying with Erie’s emotional turmoil...Whitaker is a perfect fit for Erie in his Broadway debut. He always manages to embody the paradoxical complexity of characters like these: he is both imposing and vulnerable, grand and worn-down." Full Review
“There’s a reason why O’Neill’s 1942 two-hander ‘Hughie’ is usually presented on a double bill: it is only an hour long and is essentially a rambling monologue…Oram’s towering set design of a decaying hotel lobby is visually impressive but inappropriate for such a small piece. Whitaker gives a hyperactive yet sensitive performance…while Wood does a fine job serving as the blank-faced listener.” Full Review
“Whitaker's performance is far too undistinguished…Under Michael Grandage's direction, he's a rather ordinary...There's little depth, or even vocal variety in his portrayal and the proceedings get dull quickly. It would be unfair to say that Wood steals the show with his tiny role, but his fine, understated turn is a lovely display of a stage actor's craft.” Full Review
See it if you love Forest Whitaker, he is amazing, his quiet acting reached me from the stage, I was transfixed.
Don't see it if You want an action packed, surface glancing story. You want laughs, color, visual excitement.
See it if you are thrilled by extremely nuanced acting and are hungry for Eugene O'Neill's writing. Beautifully surprising character choice.
Don't see it if you go to the theater to be simply entertained. This is a play that requires the audience to be completely involved with the characters.
See it if You're a fan of character study plays. Not a lot of action but there is a lot of acting!
Don't see it if You're looking for lots of fluff. This is a serious look a serious side of life.
See it if you want to see this little performed Oneill by a master. its a master class in acting. FW is amazing -the set and clothes great. loved it
Don't see it if want to pay a lot of money for an hour of great theater
See it if You like O'Neill or Whitaker and you don't mind that it's low-key and far from action-packed.
Don't see it if You would feel short-changed by a 55 minute two character play.
See it if your penchant for O'Neill outweighs the knowledge that this is one of his lesser-known works (perhaps for a reason); you like one man shows.
Don't see it if you require more than one character's input to sustain interest in a show, or if you don't like Forrest Whitaker.
See it if This piece has closed, but it was wonderful seeing Forest Whitaker conquer such a lengthy piece. Essentially a one man show, he was superb!
Don't see it if The piece is a bit dated, no intermission, essentially one man performing a monlogo for over an hour. You must be patient and open.
See it if You like Eugene O'Neill and want to see Forest Whitaker on the stage. Both he and Frank Wood are excellent.
Don't see it if The show is short (1 hr. 5 min.) and although it's interesting, doesn't seem like a full story.
See it if You like one acts. You like shows with small casts. You like Eugine O'Neil. You like straight plays.
Don't see it if You want to see a musical. You dont like one acts. You want something extravagant.
See it if You love O'Neil and want to see this terrific character study
Don't see it if you expect more than 55 minutes of show for your $150-200. I also HATED the padding of this 45 minute show with absurd pauses.
See it if You are a fan of Forest Whitaker or Eugene O'Neill, love small, intimate theaters, or have a time machine - it's closed already.
Don't see it if Wordy, slightly dated dramas are not your thing. For me it was worth it just to chat Forest Whitaker up in Shubert Alley, nice man.
See it if you like the actors and can sit through a 65-minute slow one-act. It's a moderately engaging character study and I'm glad I went.
Don't see it if you have a poor attention span and need a show to go somewhere. Hughie isn't "exciting", but it's an interesting piece if you pay attention.
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