Tony and Oscar-winning actor Kevin Kline returns to Broadway in Noël Coward's classic comedy about a famous and self-obsessed actor whose comfortable life quickly spins out of control. More…
'Present Laughter' takes place in the home of celebrated actor Garry Essendine, a puffed-up charmer with a knack for histrionics, wooing women, and extreme displays of vanity. With his birthday rapidly approaching, Essendine is poised to set off on a tour of Africa. The actor’s expertly assembled life is upended when a predatory fan, an obsessed playwright, and a young woman with more than Essendine’s resume on her mind are simultaneously thrown into the mix, all vying for his attention. As things spin wildly out of control, Essendine must scramble to keep his house of cards standing—and decide whether there’s room in his life to love anyone but himself. Co-starring Tony nominees Kate Burton, Kristine Nielsen, and Reg Rogers, along with Cobie Smulders in her Broadway debut. Directed by Tony nominee Moritz von Stuelpnagel ('Hand to God').
"Not only is Mr. Kline’s performance a triumph, but this revival is the best staging of a Coward play—any Coward play—that I’ve ever seen...Essendine is played for truth, not as a caricature, which simultaneously makes him more interesting and even funnier...By having his actors underplay the first half of the show, Mr. von Stuelpnagel heightens the payoff of the second half...By evening’s end, the laughter is loud, continuous and entirely well-deserved." Full Review
"Kline is hilarious with incisive timing and, at the same time, poignant and on target portraying Essendine's uneasiness as a fading public star in constant battle with his private reality...As the cherry on the top, Kline has an engrossing cast, all confidently kept in line by director Moritz von Stuelpnagel...Kline's skill, style, and sophistication does justice to Noel Coward's 1939 English comedy of warmth and desperation...'Present Laughter' is the pièce de résistance this theater season." Full Review
"A brilliantly fine-tuned comedy of style and substance...An ensemble of actors that truly embodies the very best of Broadway...Kline creates a character that is broadly comedic, yet with an underlying authenticity that makes you adore him in spite of his bloated ego...Von Stuelpnagel keeps things moving at a brisk pace and though the action-packed staging is meticulously choreographed, 'Present Laughter' remarkably feels as though it’s unfolding for the very first time." Full Review
“The best of the best…A cast of exceptional actors keeps this farce moving with buoyant focus and attention to detail…However, it is Kline who anchors the production, in a performance of exceptional clarity...Director Moritz von Stuelpnagel has deftly guided the action without imprisoning his actors. Of course, he has been handed a gift in Kevin Kline, who with his prodigious talent and experience carries a show that sparkles. Don’t miss it.” Full Review
"Kline may be the nimblest, most sophisticated comedian the American theatre has to offer, and the role of Garry fits him like one of his superbly tailored dressing gowns. Happily, Kline is sharing the stage with a prize collection of high-comedy playmates...The best part of von Stuelpnagel's production is that everyone on stage appears to be having a roaring time, thus making the audience want to join in the fun." Full Review
“The production takes seriously the mess that radiates from Garry’s narcissism, and with that seriousness refuels the hilarity of the farce that overlays it. In the hands of Kline and a vividly intelligent supporting cast, it’s a great and frank and still modern comedy…The play’s three-act structure is pretty much faultless…If there are still some extravagances to prune and shaggy moments to comb out, they’re minor.” Full Review
“A delicious drawing-room comedy…Kline relishes the comic challenge in this snazzy production…Director von Stuelpnagel has assembled a cast of reliable pros who know the drill so well they could pace it out in their sleep. The lesser-skilled younger actors should study the technique of these veterans and bless their lucky stars for the opportunity to do so. Kristine Nielsen, who plays Garry’s secretary, Monica Reed, constitutes a master class.” Full Review
“As originally written, Noel Coward's ‘Present Laughter’ is an entertaining but old fashioned drawing-room comedy with juicy roles for actors. With Kevin Kline in the leading role, the play is elevated to the next level and plays like a comedy masterpiece. Kline's performance is one you will not want to miss. Some of his co-stars like Kate Burton and Kristine Nielsen also give indelible performances.” Full Review
“An absolutely splendid revival…The simple act of handing America’s greatest exemplar of comic suavity a role he was born to play is half the battle…Kline is the very model of a star who lets his brilliance illuminate everyone around him…He enlivens each moment with palpable zest and impeccable style, arrogant brio shading into middle-aged insecurity with a twitch of his perfectly trimmed mustache. He must do more Coward or share his secrets.” Full Review
"Through it all Kline is a master of comic and dramatic sophistication that exactly fits the tone of Coward’s best writing. That tone is achieved—with one exception—by the direction of Moritz von Stuelpnagel and the contributions of other starring cast members...A wonderfully entertaining production, with impeccable casting and resulting fine acting, led by the triumph of Kevin Kline...One of the most enjoyable plays, revival or original, of the season." Full Review
“Coward's sublime comedy of manners is as delightful, delicious, and ‘delovely’ as ever. And what makes the current production stand out even more is Kline's bravura performance…He is delivering a tour de force, calling upon all of his skills, both comic and tragic…Director von Stuelpnagel does exceptional work with his ensemble, maximizing the manic comedy while allowing his leads to rise above type.” Full Review
"Kline is the best we have and this is a role he was born to play...He is such an inventive actor that he makes Coward’s incisive banter even wittier and more worldly than it is on the printed page, and that’s because his entire face and body serve him to enrich his character...All interested in learning what top-notch, high-comedy acting is all about must visit the St. James...The material supplied by Noël Coward is catnip for those who know what to do with it. And these folks do." Full Review
“This fun and fluffy play is filled to the brim with Noel Coward-esque wit, that kind of smart, snappy dialogue that you rarely hear anymore…We're lucky to have such a pitch-perfect production of such a play, and it's an embarrassment of riches to have this cast…For me, though, the absolute treat was getting to see Kevin Kline on stage…He's in top form…He zealously chews scenery, and doesn't miss an opportunity to turn a small moment or movement or look into a big laugh.” Full Review
"Noël Coward created one of the great comic monsters of the modern theater...It’s a truly luscious role, and Kevin Kline makes a full meal of it...This makes for a very textured 'Present Laughter'...This is also the most precisely directed 'Present Laughter' I’ve seen, thanks to Moritz von Stuelpnagel; every intention is crystal clear, and there’s plenty of truly inventive comic business...Highly recommended." Full Review
"Last week's performance was on fire! They were making me laugh at a great clip, and it was the perfect show to see to raise the spirits during a long long week. Kline is so expert at physical comedy, but he also captures the ruefulness that hides under the always onstage veneer. His line readings are a riot, his double takes sublime and the tender moments are completely touching...Really, everyone just seemed to be having a grand time up there, so we in the audience did, too." Full Review
"Thank heaven for Kevin Kline! His performance in the revival of Noel Coward’s 'Present Laughter' is worth studying over and over again...Kline, Kate Burton as Liz, Kristine Nielsen as Monica and the rest of the cast excel in carrying it off. It’s high comedy, it’s farce, but it must seem natural. Timing is everything, but it must not seem forced...Kevin Kline is the best Essendine that I’ve seen. I would gladly see this production again and again." Full Review
“Kevin Kline, with his crisp classical delivery and expertise in physical comedy, cuts a fine figure as the world-weary man about town…Kate Burton shines with cultured intelligence as his not quite ex-wife who still cares after him. The moments of Kline and Burton together represent the production's peak of civilized high comedy…While this is an ensemble play with plenty of richly drawn characters, Kline is the colorful centerpiece." Full Review
“When your main character is a human peacock, you need an actor who can preen like nobody's business. Paging Kevin Kline, a debonair clown, who's ideally cast as the aging, mirror-mad matinee idol…Deadpan delivery? Funny physical bits? Check. Check…At times you’d like to hush the talky play…Cobie Smulders is saucy and sexy. Kristine Nielsen is reliably hilarious…Under the smart direction of Moritz von Stuelpnagel the production is in fine feather.” Full Review
“Directed with classy restraint by von Stuelpnagel, Kline holds back his virtuosic physical comedy until near the end, when his quick, startling feats made me want to rewind and watch them all over again…This is a revival that, despite a cast of farce experts, treats the broad moments as rare offhand treats that flash suddenly on characters as momentary glimpses into humanity’s silliness...This production has one absolutely critical element for Coward: style.” Full Review
"Kline handles Coward’s elegant humor with a charming mix of subtlety and panache...Among the powerhouse supporting players, including a wry Kate Burton as Garry’s almost-ex wife Liz, and Reg Rogers as his leery publicist, it’s Kristine Neilsen, as his secretary Monica, who tends to steal the show...Director Moritz von Stuelpnagel proves his mastery extends beyond satanic puppets to high-minded drawing room comedy." Full Review
“Kevin Kline further spices up Coward’s tangy wit with his own genius for physical comedy. It makes for an irresistible cocktail of a show…The plot is hardly going to win prizes for originality or even great credibility…Director Moritz von Stuelpnagel has guided the company into an infectious appreciation of Coward’s agility with language and whipsaw repartee, plus the facility, for the most part, to find the fun in the play’s people without making fun of them.” Full Review
"Kline appears to be having the time of his life onstage...It’s a fast-paced and straightforward production featuring two equally delightful and delighted costars—the goofily irresistible Kristine Nielsen as Essendine’s stalwart secretary, Monica, and Kate Burton, steely and wry as his devoted not-quite-ex-wife, Liz—plus a mixed bag of supporting players...‘Present Laughter’ is a romp of sitcom-like goings-on, incredibly well executed." Full Review
"Director Moritz von Stuelpnagel’s hilarious production. Few performers can appealingly merge clumsiness and grace—Kline exhibits a cross between the body language of a Charlie Chaplin and the wit, say, of a Rex Harrison...The supporting company...gives top-drawer support to the egomaniacal yet often melancholic man who has everything, yet never ceases complaining about his plight of plenty...Make a point of getting a ticket." Full Review
"'Present Laughter' is delightfully funny and entertaining...The plot line is thin...The major draw of 'Present Laughter' is Kevin Kline...Kline is a terrific comedian. He’s athletic, lithe and able to milk an entrance just walking down the stairs...It’s hard to envision anyone playing the role better...'Present Laughter' is a joyous farce and, for me, it was a revelation. The comedy is a limited run. It’s fun and a must-see." Full Review
“Mr. Kline is so compulsively watchable, so utterly and consummately in control of the proceedings that we simply surrender to an actor at the top of his game…Attention is paid here to anchoring the farcical frivolity in a way that allows us to believe that real things are happening to real people in real situations…Marred only by a couple of moments of curiously awkward staging, Stuelpnagel deploys his ensemble throughout this clockwork comedy to generally excellent effect.” Full Review
See it if You love classic comedy and great acting. The entire cast (especially Kevin Kline) truly are masters of this form and the work shows!
Don't see it if You don't like classic plays or slapstick comedy.
See it if you enjoy a well acted and exceedingly funny show. If you want to see an actor whose role was made for him -- Kevin Kline!
Don't see it if you don't enjoy farcical comedy and English accents.
See it if - You enjoy farces and tangled webs - You want to laugh loud and often - You want a good night with some great acting
Don't see it if - You are looking for a musical - You are looking for deep, philosophical fare - You don't like British humour
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