"The thing is up and running," is the eminently practical way that Horton Foote described last night's first preview of Dividing the Estate, at the Booth on Broadway. He continued: "The actors all knew their lines, and I am thrilled that with the cold snap this week in New York that no one's out sick."
After the performance, everyone connected with the production made their way down Shubert Alley to Sardi's. Over a supper that crested with a delicious warm-chocolate cake, there was much gratitude expressed thatDividing was at last on Broadway. "I am thrilled," said Elliot Fox, the managing director of Primary Stages, the off-Broadway theater where the production met great acclaim last year. My table -- which in addition to Fox included the production stage manager, Roy Harris; and understudies Jennifer Harmon and Jill Tanner -- had many questions for Fox about the Primary run, which, given the size of the cast (13) was quite a commitment.
There was special admiration expressed for the fact that the Primary engagement had no stand-bys -- a not uncommon practice off-Broadway. "We were very lucky," Fox said. "Even if somebody was a little under-the-weather, he or she went on." That remark that prompted me to mention to the table how many times actors have told me that they can arrive at the theater feeling tired or unwell, only to have the act of performing pick up their spirits.
"That's called Doctor Theater," Harmon said. "Every actor has experienced it at some point. But there was no need for any of that tonight. Everyone displayed great energy onstage, and is looking forward to a happy run."
BRENDAN LEMON is the American theater critic for the Financial Timesand the editor of lemonwade.com