To the casual eye, the first day of rehearsal may seem like a beginning, but for some of those assembled at this week's meet-and-greet of Clifford Odets'Golden Boy, held in LCT's large basement hall for the show's actors and the theater's staff, the occasion was a midpoint or even a near-end. For example, if you looked at the beautiful costume sketches and photo inspirations on one of the room's walls, you would have seen that Catherine Zuber, the costume designer, has already put in an enormous degree of meticulous labor.
If you eyed the miniature set from Michael Yeargan, whose overall design for the show the director, Bartlett Sher, said is mostly "impressionistic," you would be aware of similarly ample amounts of inspiration on display. In his remarks, LCT's artistic director, Andre Bishop, also gave evidence that this production of Golden Boy has been in gestation for a long time. After welcoming the cast (Bernard Gersten, LCT's executive producer, had also wished everyone an enjoyable experience), Bishop revealed that Sher's 2006 revival of Odets' Awake and Sing had taken several years to assemble, even though it is one of Bishop's favorite plays and one he'd wanted to do for quite some time.
Awake and Sing, Bishop added with gratitude, had been so well-received that it was subsequently safe to say that "Odets was back." That was cheering to, among others, Walt Odets, the son of the playwright and the executor of his estate, who, said Bishop, was wary of putting his father's work onstage again in New York, a city with whom the play's author had had a complex and not always joyous relationship.
But as a great dramatist Odets was aware that few of life's major emotions and experiences are unalloyed, including popularity and acclaim and what trail in their wake. Sher made the point another way. Golden Boy, he said, "is a parable about the problem of success."
Brendan Lemon is the American theater critic for the Financial Times and the editor of lemonwade.com.