Longacre Theatre, (4/16/2014 - 7/27/2014)

First Preview: Mar 19, 2014
Opening Date: Apr 16, 2014
Closing Date: Jul 27, 2014
Total Previews: 31
Total Performances: 118

Category: Play, Drama, Revival, Broadway
Setting: The Salinas Valley of California. The 1930s.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by The Shubert Organization (Philip J. Smith: Chairman; Robert E. Wankel: President)

Produced by David Binder, Kate Lear, Darren Bagert, Adam Zotovich, Latitude Link/Piedmont Productions, Raise The Roof, Paula Marie Black, Marc Turtletaub, Ruth Hendel/Barbara Whitman, Marianne Mills/Jayne Baron Sherman, Martin Massman, Judy Kent/Wendy Knudsen, Kevin Niu, Michael Watt and The Shubert Organization (Philip J. Smith: Chairman; Robert E. Wankel: President); Associate Producer: Eric Schnall, Mark Berger and Matthew Masten

Written by John Steinbeck; Original Music: David Singer

Directed by Anna D. Shapiro; Assistant Director: Jonathan Berry and Cat Miller

Scenic Design by Todd Rosenthal; Costume Design by Suttirat Larlarb; Lighting Design by Japhy Weideman; Sound Design by Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen; Hair and Wig Design by Charles G. LaPointe; Make-Up Design by John McNulty; Associate Scenic Design: Kevin Depinet; Associate Costume Design: Moria Clinton; Associate Lighting Design: Gary Slootskiy; Associate Sound Design: Chris Cronin; Assistant Scenic Design: Courtney O'Neill; Assistant Lighting Design: JAX Messenger

Executive Producer: 101 Productions, Ltd.; Company Manager: Bobby Driggers; Assistant Co. Mgr: Katie Pope

Technical Supervisor: Hudson Theatrical Associates; Production Stage Manager: Jane Grey; Stage Manager: Cambra Overend; Assistant Stage Mgr: Sara J. Grady

Fight direction by Thomas Schall; Casting: Calleri Casting; Press Representative: Polk & Co.; Marketing Director: Eric Schnall; Advertising: Serino Coyne; Interactive Marketing: Situation Interactive; Photographer: Richard Phibbs

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Opening Night Cast

James Franco
Broadway debut
Chris O'Dowd
Broadway debut
Leighton Meester
Broadway debut
Curley's Wife
Jim NortonCandy
Ron Cephas JonesCrooks
Joel Marsh GarlandCarlson
James McMenaminWhit
Alex MorfCurley
Jim OrtliebThe Boss
Jim ParrackSlim

Understudies: Michael Dempsey (Curley, George, Slim, Whit), Kevin Jackson (Crooks), Erica Lutz (Curley's Wife) and Stephen Payne (Candy, Carlson, The Boss)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

 2014 Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play [nominee] 

Chris O'Dowd

 2014 Best Lighting Design of a Play [nominee] 

Japhy Weideman

Drama Desk Award

 2014 Outstanding Revival of a Play [nominee] 

Produced by David Binder, Kate Lear, Darren Bagert, Adam Zotovich, Latitude Link/Piedmont Productions, Raise The Roof, Paula Marie Black, Marc Turtletaub, Ruth Hendel/Barbara Whitman, Marianne Mills/Jayne Baron Sherman, Martin Massman, Judy Kent/Wendy Knudsen, Kevin Niu, Michael Watt and The Shubert Organization (Philip J. Smith: Chairman; Robert E. Wankel: President)

 2014 Outstanding Actor in a Play [nominee] 

Chris O'Dowd

Theatre World

winner 2014 Award [recipient] 

Chris O'Dowd


AP: "Chris O'Dowd Shines in 'Of Mice and Men'"

There are hordes of teenage girls waiting outside the Longacre Theatre each night hoping to squeal over uber-muffin James Franco. But true theater fans should be waiting for his co-star to emerge.

Chris O'Dowd, known more for films like "Bridesmaids" and "Friends With Kids," turns in a very impressive performance as the mentally challenged Lennie in a fine revival of "Of Mice and Men." Franco? He's pretty good in his Broadway debut as George, but O'Dowd, in a tricky role, steals the show.

John Steinbeck's play about friendship and humanity in rural California is smartly directed by Anna D. Shapiro, with evocative sets by Todd Rosenthal and rich lighting from Japhy Weideman.

It's a tragedy — death and loss are in every scene — but Shapiro has teased out as much humor as is possible. Though the characters are often symbolic, the language is spare and plain, a reflection on the men Steinbeck is writing about. There's a certain stiffness on stage as men warily gauge each other's intent.

Franco and O'Dowd play two tragic migrant workers trying to make a life amid the Depression. Because O'Dowd's Lennie is mentally disabled, Franco's George acts as Lennie's guardian. Two men traveling together are clearly rare in this broken part of the world where men seem to drift from job to job.

Lennie is a mountain of a man but has a hard time remembering things and doesn't know his own strength. He has accidentally killed a mouse just because he liked petting it when we first meet him. More pretty things will die before we're done.

O'Dowd, his hair shaved and sporting a bushy beard, beautifully conveys Lennie's innocence, his tics and his toddler-like frustrations. Franco is more standoffish, creating a George who apparently longs to be alone, tries to be decent and squints a lot.

The two men have a heartbreaking routine: They each share the dream of owning and running a ranch — "live off the fat of the land!" — with pigs, vegetables, a cow and rabbits, which makes Lennie squeals with delight. It will be his job to care for the plush rabbits.

The fantasy is infectious. Two other characters ask if they can join: Jim Norton, as the heartbreaking Candy, an old, lame ranch-hand who must surrender his beloved dog to be killed, and Ron Cephas Jones, as the seen-it-all but excluded Crooks. Both are great, two beaten-down men who have seen the worst of humanity but can still dream like little boys again.

Leighton Meester, of "Gossip Girl" fame, has a less good time of it, making an inauspicious Broadway debut as Curley's wife. Her line reading is flat, her comfort in the character nonexistent. She is never convincing, as the book makes clear, that she as a woman is another member of the disenfranchised. Meester may be as pretty as Franco, but she's way out of her depth here.

The dusty, weather-beaten sets, which range from river bank to rusty bunkhouse to stable room and barn, the last of which is beautifully realized with just hay bales and some scary-looking steel farm implements hanging high overhead, the mechanisms of fate. Everything is lit as if the sun was perpetually setting.

The final scene is one of the most famous in literature and Franco and O'Dowd do it justice. It's set where the play begins and it is clear everything led inevitably to this moment. Even so, the crack of gunfire will still startle.


New York Daily News: "Of Mice and Men"

With his recent frat-boy antics and Renaissance-man boasts, James Franco earns eye rolls. But he deserves an appreciative nod for his Broadway debut in “Of Mice and Men.” The “127 Hours” Oscar nominee and Chris O’Dowd do first-rate work in this stirring revival.

Set in Depression-era California, John Steinbeck’s 1937 American tragedy follows drifters and dreamers on a collision course with life’s cruel reality. Lennie (O’Dowd) has the mind of a child and the strength of an ox — a lethal combination. George (Franco) is his reluctant but dutiful caretaker.

The buddies land jobs on a ranch and want to save dough to buy their own little spread — rabbits, Lennie’s favorites, included. Cash from Candy (Jim Norton), an elderly hand, puts the dream in reach. If George and Lennie stick to the strategy and avoid hot-headed Curley (Alex Morf) and his flirty wife (Leighton Meester) they’ll be golden. But you know what they say about best-laid plans.

Steinbeck’s story isn’t exactly subtle. Director Anna D. Shapiro (“August: Osage County”) packs shading and meaning into an evocative production in which danger lurks everywhere. “It’s mean here,” says Lennie. And he’s right. The bunkhouse is a tinderbox. In the barn, a steel-jawed gizmo for hefting hay bales looks like it could grab you and tear you apart.

Shapiro’s ace cast grips, too, but not terrifyingly. “Gossip Girl” alum and stage newcomer Meester brings out the yearning and sadness of the unnamed wife. Tony winner Norton adds dignity and gravity as sad ol’ Candy, who loses his dog and his hope. Ron Cephas Jones and Jim Parrack impress respectively as Crooks, the lonely black worker, and Slim, the level-headed foreman.

O’Dowd (“Bridesmaids”) is such a likable and endearing actor that he automatically brings goodwill to a role. The Broadway rookie’s thoughtful performance as the loud, clumsy and sweet overgrown child creates a sense of imminent catastrophe.

As George, who’s torn between protectiveness and outrage, Franco’s confident, straightforward, no-frills performance works just right. He can do a lot with a look. What finally reads on his face is what George and we have known all along: Lennie isn’t George’s anchor — he is his rudder. Neither man has a chance without the other.

New York Daily News

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