Biltmore Theatre, (12/06/1978 - 5/13/1979)

First Preview: Nov 29, 1978
Opening Date: Dec 06, 1978
Closing Date: May 13, 1979
Total Previews: 9
Total Performances: 181

Category: Play, Comedy, Original, Broadway
Setting: Cecil's garden

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by David J. Cogan

Produced by Elliot Martin and Hinks Shimberg; Produced in association with John Gale

Written by William Douglas Home

Directed by Lindsay Anderson

Scenic Design by Alan Tagg; Costume Design by Jane Greenwood; Lighting Design by Thomas Skelton; Wig Design by Paul Huntley

General Manager: Victor Samrock; Company Manager: Robert H. Wallner

Production Stage Manager: Bill Weaver; Stage Manager: Wally Peterson

General Press Representative: Seymour Krawitz; Casting: Marjorie Martin; Press Representative: Louise Weiner Ment and Patricia McLean Krawitz; Advertising: Ash / LeDonne

Opening Night Cast

Claudette ColbertEvelyn
Rex HarrisonCecil
George RoseHawkins

Standby: Michael Evans (Cecil, Hawkins) and Betty Low (Evelyn)

Understudies: Wally Peterson (Hawkins)

Awards and Nominations

Drama Desk Award

winner 1979 Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play [winner] 

George Rose


New York Daily News: "Stars shine in 'Kingfisher'"

All should be lovely this morning at the Biltmore. Last night's new comedy, William Douglas Home's "The Kingfisher," is paper thin, but though it does dip a bit here and there, Rex Harrison, Claudette Colbert and George Rose - that's the entire cast - keep it skimming across the evening with a grace befitting its title.

Deftly staged by Lindsay Anderson, it toys with old love, with the notion of autumnal juices stirring in the spring. The wit is not sharp, the talk never really sparkles; yet Home's sense of proportion is just right, and the three stars grasp their parts like fresh bouquets.

Harrison is Sir Cecil, England's most popoular novelist, a knighted bachelor dwelling comfortably on a country estate and tended to by Hawkins, his adoring though occasionally critical manservant for 50 years now.

Contentment reigns, except for one thing. Half a century before, under this very beech thee whose limbs spread across the garden setting, Sir Cecil had almost won the divine Evelyn, but then let her slip through his hands and into the stiff embrace of Reginald. 

Now, Reginald, gone to his reward on some great golf course in the sky, having passed away on a 17th hole here below, has just been buried nearby and Evelyn is stopping by for tea on her way home. Will Sir Cecil flub it again (yes, that's the way they talk), or will the kingfisher they sighted together that earlier spring night reappear? Guess.

It's not a long play, but Home manages to keep this question and the small talk alive through four scenes as afternoon lengthens into evening, evening into night and night into another glorious May morning.

Harrison, though well past his gayblade days, nevertheless retains the dash, good humor and impeccable timing that have always been his. Sir Cecil is no Henry Higgins, to be sure, but in Harrison's playing, he is a more mature, wiser, slightly testy but resourceful schemer.

Miss Colbert, small and slender and immorally pretty still, a scarlet grin parting that alabaster skin, is Harrions's teasing match. Fifty years may have passed, and they may have to summon Hawkins from bed to help them to their feet after once more settling on the clipped grass beneath the beech, but by God! you really believe the two could make it together. Do they? Guess some more.

As for Hawkins, Rose is ideally cast in what is probably the meatiest manservant role since "My Man Godfrey" or " The Admirable Crichton." Horrified at the thought of a woman invading this domain, he has a highly amusing drunk scene and another in which he turns in his notice on learning that Sir Cecil has proposed to Evelyn.

Home spins out his story craftily and artifully as he reduces Sir Cecil from a vaunted womanizer (a fiction he and Hawkins have elaborately built up over the years of their interdependence) to a faithful lover with just one outside affair over the years.

Alan Tagg's charming orginal set (the play was in London's West End last year with Ralph Richardson and Celia Johnson) has been recreated and Jane Greenwood has designed three stylish costumes apiece for Miss Colbert and Harrison.

Anderson, of course, has retained his original delightful directorial scheme. Thomas Skelton's lighting is also flattering, except for a stray shadow or two.

"The Kingfisher" is slight but deft, and all smiles.

New York Daily News

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