The summer heat can be fun, but later in July and August it can bring muggy, saturated days. Thankfully it is now November and the fall breeze is in full effect, offering a refreshing blast of lightly chilled air before the temperatures become downright bitter. Broadway is not immune to this sudden change, as the summer big-budget blockbusters like Spider Man and Sister Act have given up their time on the media, and more dramatic offerings grace the live stage. The 2011 theatrics include two world-renown actors and two very serious tomes.
Both plays essentially deal with patriarchs. In Man and Boy, the patriarch is a father and head of an international finance company visiting his son, who has been thought dead by the rest of the world. In Seminar, a famous and accomplished writer visits with a small writers’ group and the four would be literary stars jockeying for his ever-fickle approval.
Those with Man and Boy tickets will see Frank Langella portray Gregor Antonescu, an international financer desperate to see a merger during the Great Depression to save his company and cover his shady business practices. This production by the Roundabout Theatre Company questions his sincerity and his motivation as he shows up at the door of his estranged son. Business and other family find their way through the same door on stage at the American Airlines Theatre. Though the show is just in previews, the early reports rave about Langella in this minor Terence Rattigan work.
Less than half a mile away at the John Golden Theatre, Pulitzer Prize nominated playwright Theresa Rebeck debuts a dark comedy. There, Seminar tickets provide entrance to witness Alan Rickman as he brings international literary figure Leonard to life as he torments four young writers who are trying to publish their first novel.
Langella and Rickman, as Gregor and Leonard, represent two almost pathologically controlling men dedicated to preserving their strange hold in their perspective worlds. Perhaps this sounds far bitterer than refreshing, but these slightly heavier, darker productions (Seminar is a dark comedy) help cleanse the palate after two seasons of domination by shows intended to be much lighter and louder. The seasons have changed and so has the taste on Broadway, so enjoy these works before their limited engagements end.