Part of FringeNYC: Meet the most famous forgotten actor-couple in theater history, Lunt and Fontanne, played by a real actor-couple. This fast-paced new play covers their extraordinary partnership, from the 1920s through WWII and the 1950s, with cameos by Olivier, Coward and Brando. More…
Categories: Drama, Comedy, Local. From TBE Theatrical. Written by Mark E. Lang. Directed by Owen Thompson.
FROM THE ARTIST:
In LUNT AND FONTANNE: THE CELESTIALS OF BROADWAY, Mark E. Lang’s new stage play about the Lunts, today’s audiences get a chance to meet Alfred and Lynn, explore their life on and off the stage, see them perform scenes from their favorite plays– including Shakespeare’s TAMING OF THE SHREW and Molnar’s THE GUARDSMAN; interact with famous friends such as Noel Coward and Laurence Olivier; and share their experiences on Broadway, in London during World War II and on tour.
Playing the Lunts (and multiple roles) are New York based actors ALISON MURPHY and MARK E. LANG, also a married couple who have worked together on stage and on camera for years. They bring to these roles their own experience plus years of extensive research into the Lunts’ lives and work.
"The show proves to be a wonderful history lesson thanks to Lang’s unique balance between the information provided and how it’s delivered (we learn that they thought of Montgomery Clift as their son and there is a recurring joke about Lynn’s rivalry with Helen Hayes that proves to be a hoot) and the joyfulness of their performances (they also play supporting characters which include Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh, among others) make the play essential for theatre buffs." Full Review
"This two-hander presents the back-stage story of this famous acting couple whose partnership lasted four decades...This play doesn't turn every stone on the Lunts' remarkable partnership. But what it does uncover and hold up to the light, rings true. Directed by Owen Thompson, this two-hander sensitively portrays the theatrical greats on and off stage. And stranger or no stranger to the legendary duo of Lunt and Fontanne, everybody leaves this show as intimates." Full Review
"At times, 'Lunt and Fontanne' feels more like reading an autobiography than seeing a play, but overall the show is appealing and humorous. And Murphy and Lang certainly have undeniable chemistry, perhaps because they are a real life husband-wife acting duo, just like their characters. 'Lunt and Fontanne: The Celestials of Broadway' certainly shines and brightens the stars of a past era in Broadway history." Full Review
"A tender homage to the legacy of Lunt and Fontanne...Director Owen Thompson leverages the natural chemistry of his actors and the result of this creative collaboration is lovely to behold...Some of the best moments are when Lang and Murphy step out of their title roles to portray other notable friends and associates in the Lunts’ lives...For anyone who loves theatre, loves a grand love story, or simply enjoys an engaging, well-acted historical play, 'Lunt and Fontanne” is a solid win." Full Review
“While ‘Lunt and Fontanne’ is a fine and concise review of their careers for people who have never heard of them, Murphy and Lang make them seem more superficial than necessary. The Lunts’ famous use of overlapping dialogue can be seen in their film of ‘The Guardsman’. Murphy and Lang often use it to talk over each other’s lines making them unintelligible. To portray them as delivering their lines on the same level all time would not have made them as famous as they were.” Full Review
"'Lunt and Fontanne: The Celestials of Broadway' offers a conventional overview of the careers of two great stars the lights of whose memories have dimmed, partly because they refused the lure and lucre of Hollywood. It may prove catnip for those interested in the work and lives of these legendary actors, but, without performances even closely approximating the originals, it remains a pleasant, educational, but ultimately superficial exercise in theatrical nostalgia." Full Review
“'Lunt and Fontanne' is strongest when we see the current acting couple bravely undertake scenes from some of the Lunts' favorite productions including ‘The Guardsman’ and the ‘Taming of the Shrew’…The Lunts seem a natural subject for a stage play, and it’s a disappointment that too many of the 105 minutes of Lang’s play are taken up with a kind of clunky chronology, including an occasional cheery/cheesy direct address to the audience.“ Full Review
“In Mark W. Lang’s bioplay, Alison Murphy is lovely and expressive as Fontanne; Lang, her real-life husband, captures Lunt’s insecurities without demonstrating the great charisma he must have had...But Lang’s script is burdened with clichés and clumsy exposition...It makes one long for a play that captured the vitality of the Lunts, rather than reducing them to talking exhibits in a theater museum.” Full Review
"The era of the grand actors is long over and it is difficult to create these two in particular without seeming exaggerated or unreal, a major problem that neither Mr. Lang as Alfred Lunt nor his co-star Alison Murphy were able to overcome. Where it should have effervesced, it bogged down in a smoothly staged series of biographical skits. Their attempts at embodying these stars were hindered by poor direction by Owen Thompson...The ending was far too misty-eyed and sentimental." Full Review
for a previous production "This one-act piece serves as a tribute to their legacy and provides an intriguing overview of theater history…Lang and Murphy are marvelous as the titular couple, as well as the other characters they morph into as the need arises (Lang particularly delivers an amusing Brando) by means of simple onstage costume changes. 'Lunt and Fontanne' is a warm, fully formed portrait of a theatrical partnership that managed to stand the test of time." Full Review
for a previous production "The show is a charmer…One of the most powerful scenes is a scene from the play ‘There Shall Be No Night,’ which they performed in London during WWII. The play captures one of the performances that took place during a bombing raid; while air raid sirens blare, they press ahead. The play is a love letter to the stage, which is appropriate, since the couple dedicated themselves to it." Full Review
See it if You are fascinated with the history of great theatre, clever book and relationships between full time actors and real life spouses
Don't see it if You do not appreciate an historical play about a famous singing Broadway couple that is not a musical or lacks set and many characters
See it if You care about the Golden Years of Broadway or this couple. They transformed into the Lunts right before my eyes--glorious! Good history!
Don't see it if You don't care about theatrical history, or the Lunts, or the impact of the WW I&II on theatre and these people. Almost 2 hours flew by!
See it if want to learn more about this famous theatrical couple played by a married couple who choose key moments to dramatize for our enjoyment.
Don't see it if you aren't interested in learning more about the famous Lunt/Fontannes and their rise to theatrical fame.
See it if You enjoy Hollywood lore, simple staging
Don't see it if Get confused when actors unnecessarily change characters or don't like to watch actors lacking in the needed charisma to play legends
See it if Excellent performances help greatly to overcome paint-by-numbers script & insipid direction; but a worthy intro into Lunt/Fontanne lives
Don't see it if Limited knowledge of Lunt/Fontanne career; not a theatre history geek
See it if It was an invitation to a special period on Broadway, with delightful acting, and reflections on their personal lives.
Don't see it if If you don't want to learn the joys of theatre when you are the toast of Broadway, and the sadness when the next wave comes along.
See it if You want to meet two theater greats you never knew, and see how their lives and relationship were woven into their acting. Very smartly done
Don't see it if You don't have patience to let things unfold.
See it if Beautifully acted, this gem of a theater piece is a 90 minute love letter to perhaps the greatest acting couple in US history, the Lunts.
Don't see it if You don't care for great acting.