Monday, October 5, 2009

A Tony replaces a Tony

I was sorry to hear that Tony Roberts became ill during yesterday’s afternoon performance of the Broadway revival of The Royal Family. I’ve never met him, but he lives in my neighborhood and I’ve passed him many times over the years walking the streets of the Upper East Side. I like him as an actor onstage and have loved him in Woody Allen’s movies.

Shortly after making his entrance -- to enthusiastic audience applause -- Roberts, who plays Oscar Wolfe, began babbling incoherently and appeared disoriented, according to this morning’s New York Times. The curtain was brought down and an announcement made asking for a doctor -- several responded. Roberts was taken to St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, and the matinee was canceled. The Times reports that hospital spokesperson Jeff Jacomowitz said Roberts is in stable condition.

In the Fortune’s Wheel of show business, Roberts’ misfortune was a break for my Episcopal Actors’ Guild friend Tony Newfield (in photo), who is Roberts’ understudy. Tony went on last night. The show is scheduled to open Thursday night. As much as I don’t want Roberts to be sick, I’d love it if Tony could open.

The George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber show, produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club, is in previews at the Friedman Theatre. MTC describes the show this way: "Follow a famous family of stage stars as they go about the drama of the day: choosing scripts, dashing off to performances, stealing kisses from handsome beaus. But what’s this business about the youngest diva wanting to quit the stage for domestic bliss? Never, darling!"

Newfield, originally from Northern California, is now based in New York City. His appearances on stage, film, and television have taken him from New York to California to Ireland and Russia. Broadway credits include Tartuffe and Waiting for Godot. For his work in the play Bent, he won Florida’s Carbonell Award for Best Supporting Actor. In 2002, he created his one-man show, Steinbeck and the Land, and performed it in New York and in Salinas, California, at the Steinbeck Festival. Since then, he has created new pieces for the Festival, including The Dog Ate My Manuscript: Of Mice and Men Onstage, A Box of Glory… An Armful of Garbage, and Tortilla Flat: How Danny and His Friends Found Their Way from the Page to the Stage. He is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and earned an MFA in Acting from Carnegie Mellon University in conjunction with the Moscow Art Theatre.

Roberts received Tony Award nominations for his performances in Play It Again Sam and How Now, Dow Jones. His other theatrical credits include Xanadu, Victor/Victoria, Barefoot in the Park, Don't Drink the Water, Sugar, Absurd Person Singular, Arsenic and Old Lace, They're Playing Our Song, Jerome Robbins' Broadway and The Sisters Rosensweig. He won the London's Critics Poll Award for his performance in the West End mounting of Promises, Promises, and his many screen credits include "Annie Hall," "Play It Again, Sam" and "Serpico."

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