Who remembers the mini ticket frenzy over “All My Sons?”
It was end of summer, 2008, and there was a certain extra hyped interest in the latest Broadway revival of Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons.” Not “Death of a Salesman.” “All My Sons.” This hype occurred not because the production was directed by Simon McBurney; not because the production featured two time Tony and umpteen time Emmy winner John Lithgow in the role of tormented patriarch Joe Keller.
People were not clamoring to see the talented and matinee-idol handsome Patrick Wilson, himself a budding film presence, as Joe’s surviving son Chris.
They certainly didn’t give a rat’s fuzzy behind about two time Oscar winner Diane Wiest as Kate Keller.
Nope, the ticket demand stemmed largely from the Broadway debut of one Katie Holmes, former star of most notably, TV’s “Dawson’s Creek” as well as “Batman Begins,” “Go,” “Wonder Boys,” etc.
But mostly “Dawson’s Creek.”
In “All My Sons,’ The role of Ann Deever, just for clarity, is significant but supporting. Ann was the fiancée of the Kellers’ older son, Larry, who is now presumed dead based on faulty airplane parts manufactured by his father’s factory. Ann is now secretly engaged to Chris, a fact which has to remain secret because mama Kate Keller won’t accept that her son is gone.
Ann is not a big role, but Katie Holmes was a HUGE draw. Why? Because she was at the time rather infamously married to Tom Cruise and the mother of his daughter, Suri.
Now fast forward to 2012. Katie Holmes is back on Broadway in the Teresa Rebeck play “Dead Accounts.” She is again among an ensemble of good actors including Josh Hamilton, Judy Greer, Jane Houndyshell and Norbert Leo Butz, a comic and musical theater actor as uproarious as his crazy name, and somebody who will pretty much always upstage you.
The play was not well reviewed. Even before the notices came in, tickets were not scarce.
Katie Holmes’s star did not lose luster between 2008 and 2012; she did a couple of more movies, the miniseries of “The Kennedys” and moved a bit more firmly into her 30s.
But by 2012, she had shed Tom Cruise. With Tomkat no more, there was little or no chance he would show up to see “Dead Accounts.” and it's fair to say nobody cared much what play she appeared in.
All of this and a recent visit to the Geffen Playhouse got me to ruminating about the “Dawson’s Creek-ers,” the core foursome of whom are all in their mid 30s. James Van Der Beerk, who played dreamy Dawson Leery himself, is one of four actors in Joanna Murray Smith’s “The Gift.” He’s tall, wears a beard, and plays a conceptual artist who –with his wife Chloe (played by Jaime Ray Newman) – helps facilitate a not-very-shocking twist at play’s end.
The role is the L.A. stage debut for Van Der Beek who, the playbill notes, hails from Connecticut and has preciously appeared on stage at the Signature Theatre, the Vineyard Theatre, the Goodspeed Opera House. Unlike Holmes, van Der Beek does not have a Broadway credit, yet. (Not a bad performance. Read my review for “Backstage” here.)
Neither does Joshua Jackson, the Canadian-American heartthrob who played Pacey on “Creek” as well as appearances in “The Mighty Ducks” movies, “Fringe,” “Bobby,” etc. etc. The one theater credit I could find was, somewhat ironically, opposite Patrick Stewart in a London production of David Mamet’s two-hander “A Life in the Theatre.”
The most talented one of the “Creek” crop is – few would argue – Michelle Williams who started acting very young, has been in some very daring movies, pulled in three Oscar nominations (“Brokeback Mountain,” “Blue Valentine,” “My Week with Marilyn”) and is on the cusp of appearing as Glinda in the new Disney “Wizard of Oz” prequel.
Again, but one theater credit, and it’s a decidedly legit one: a revival of Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” opposite Jessica Chastain, Linda Emond and for director Grief and Reed Birney for director Michael Greif in 2004. Williams is a big enough star now that she probably won’t take to the stage any time so. But her creative choices are also unpredictable, so one never knows.
We do have a semi well-known Michelle Williams coming to town, but it’s the former Destiny’s Child Michelle Williams who will be appearing in the musical “Fela!” when the tour returns to the Ahmanson Theatre in late April.