Longacre Theatre, (4/24/1977 - 9/03/1977)

First Preview: Apr 15, 1977
Opening Date: Apr 24, 1977
Closing Date: Sep 03, 1977
Total Previews: 11
Total Performances: 117

Category: Play, Revival, Broadway
Setting: The United States Army. 1965-1967.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by The Shubert Organization (Gerald Schoenfeld: Chairman; Bernard B. Jacobs: President)

Produced by Moe Septee and Carmen F. Zollo

Originally produced by The Theatre Company of Boston and The New York Shakespeare Festival (Joseph Papp, Producer)

Written by David Rabe

Directed by David Wheeler

Scenic Design by Robert Mitchell; Costume Design by Domingo Rodriguez; Lighting Design by David F. Segal; Special Consultant for Music and Sound: Peter Judd

General Manager: Laurel Ann Wilson

Production Stage Manager: Patrick Horrigan; Stage Manager: Barbara Dilker; Technical Coordinator: Arthur Siccardi

General Press Representative: Max Eisen; Advertising: The Blaine Thompson Company; Press Representative: Judy Jacksina and Barbara Glenn; Special Drill Advisor: Billy Jackson; Poster Design by Gilbert Lesser

Opening Night Cast

Al PacinoPavlo Hummel
John AquinoHendrix
Don BlakelyJones
Gary BollingBurns
Private Grennel
Sully BoyarSergeant Wall
Larry BryggmanKress
Tisa ChangYen
Second Viet Cong
Rebecca DarkeMrs. Hummel
Michael DinelliRyan
Joe FieldsFirst Sergeant Tower
Paul GuilfoyleHinkle
Lance HenriksenPierce
Ron HunterMickey
Gustave JohnsonArdell
Jack KehoeCorporal Jackson
Damien LeakeParham
Richard LynchSergeant Brisbey
Andrea MastersSorrentino
Kevin MaungGomez
Vietnamese Boy
First Viet Cong
Anne MiyamotoMamasan
Vietnamese Farmer
Brad SullivanCaptain Saunders
Captain Miller
Lieutenant Smith
Max WrightParker

Understudies: John Aquino (Kress), Don Blakely (First Sergeant Tower), Gary Bolling (Jones), Tisa Chang (First Viet Cong, Sorrentino), Michael Dinelli (Pierce), Paul Guilfoyle (Ryan), Ron Hunter (Corporal Jackson), Ronald Hunter (Hendrix), Damien Leake (Ardell, Burns), Andrea Masters (Mrs. Hummel), Kevin Maung (Hendrix, Hinkle) and Anne Miyamoto (Second Viet Cong, Yen)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

winner 1977 Best Actor in Play [winner] 

Al Pacino

 1977 Best Featured Actor in a Play [nominee] 

Joe Fields

Drama Desk Award

winner 1977 Outstanding Actor in a Play [winner] 

Al Pacino

winner 1971 Most Promising Playwright [winner] 

Written by David Rabe

Theatre World

winner 1977 Award [recipient] 

Joe Fields


New York Daily News: "Pacino plays dogface Pavlo in revival"

Today, six years after David Rabe made his reputation at the Public Theater with "The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel," which was revived last night at the Longacre, the play seems like slightly stale beer. Not that it has lost its authenticity, or that its most striking moments are any less striking. But returning after the author's masterly "Sticks and Bones" and his taut and compelling "Streamers," it seems the weakest link in his war trilogy. (I omit "The Orphan" because that was an ineffectual attempt to treat the Vietnamese mess in terms of Greek tragedy.)

What makes "Hummel" hum, of course, is its central figure, a sort of good-soldier-schnook or vacant dogface. Pavlo, whom we follow in flashbacks and flash forwards through basic training in Georgia, work as a medic in Vietnam, leave at home and a brief and bloody career in the infantry which ends (as the play begins) with his being blown apart by a grenade, is a cipher, representative of all the wasted flesh and meaningless activity of that insane war.

A bastard child, product of one of the many nameless lovers his mother took after her husband, with whom she produced one legitimate son, died, Pavlo is the unwanted youth, disliked by his fellow trainees and carrying within him a faint death-wish.

His girl -- or tramp, really -- back home has married and borne children (the play spans the years 1965-67, when Rabe himself served), and his only experience overseas is with a Vietnamese whore, let for hire by her mother. It is only when he is thrice wounded that he applies for a medical discharge, is instead ordered to rejoin his company, and meets his death.

Rabe tells this all explicitly, with barracks humor and barracks cruelty, and with those insights into the human heart, will, courage or lack of it, depravity, the gradual dehumanization of the soldier and his function as a lonely robot that have made Rabe the most powerful of our younger playwrights. But in "Hummel" he had not yet learned how to channel his ideas, even his often rich poeticism, as effectively as he later did.

Al Pacino, who first played Pavlo in Boston in 1972, has returned under the same auspices (with added commercial sponsorship), the Theater Company of Boston, and under the same director, David Wheeler. Pacino is tremendously effective, a small figure slouching his way through a brief life he has never understood. (For example, his joy in killing Vietnamese, even an old farmer, is prompted by a fellow soldier's tale of shooting an old man and young girl through their faces because they presumably carried TNT in their clothing.)

Joe Fields, who created the role of the psychotic black soldier so unforgettably in the New Haven presentation of "Streamers," is superb as the loud, tough First Sgt. Tower, another role he created. Gustave Johnson does what he can with the curious, and really unnecessary, part of a sort of black alter ego who instructs both the dead and living Hummel. Among the others in the large cast, all of whom acquit themselves ably, Larry Bryggman's performance as a bullying trainee, Kress, stands out.

Wheeler's direction is concise and clear as possible in Robert Mitchell's steeply-raked, all-purpose and sometimes confusing set, except when he allows a change of furniture to cover the one speech of any consequence by Pavlo's mother, played by Rebecca Darke.

If you haven't seen "Hummel" before, it's worth a visit, even though it covers overly-familiar ground which may, in time, seem fresh again.

New York Daily News

View full site