Actor Kevin Kline will return to Broadway in early 2017 in a revival of Noël Coward’s backstage comedy, Present Laughter.
Produced by Jordan Roth and directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel (Hand to God), Present Laughter is scheduled to open at the St. James Theatre April 5, 2017, after the January 1, 2017, departure of the musical Something Rotten!
Kline, who was a member of the legendary inaugural season of The Acting Company (along with Patti LuPone and others), won Tony Awards for On the 20th Century in 1978 (at the St. James) and for The Pirates of Penzance in 1981, two roles that made good use of his skill at swashbuckling physical comedy. Kline was seen on Broadway most recently in the 2007 revival of Cyrano de Bergerac. He won an Academy Award for his performance in A Fish Called Wanda.
Roth said, “If I didn't know that Noël Coward wrote this part for himself, I'd say he must have written it for Kevin Kline. Kevin's performances have been such an indelible part of my theatre-going and film-watching lifetime, as I know they have been for all of us. Being part of his return to Broadway and to the St. James is about as good as it gets.”
“In our fame and social media-obsessed age, it feels especially apropos to do a sex farce about being a celebrity,” von Stuelpnagel said in a prepared statement. “We all curate a kind of facade, a public face, but when the laughs and the parties end, I think we’re left with something darker and deeply human: ourselves, private, true. Present Laughter is bitingly witty, full of glamour and vivid personalities, but beneath that, there's something striking to me about the comedian stripped down to his most personal self, in this, Coward’s most personal play.”
Tickets are not yet on sale. Roth promised that additional casting would be announced shortly.
This will be the sixth Broadway production of Present Laughter since its author debuted it in 1946, taking the role of successful light-play author Garry Essendine for himself. Coward revived it in 1958, again as the star.
It was done again in 1982, starring George C. Scott (with early-career Nathan Lane as the aspiring writer Roland Maule), in 1998 with Frank Langella as Essendine, and in 2010 starring Victor Garber.
Here is a clip of Kline in his Tony-winning performance as the Pirate King in Wilford Leach’s staging of The Pirates of Penzance in its pre-Broadway performance at the Delacorte Theatre in New York’s Central Park: