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The Columnist

Playing at the at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre at 245 West 46th Street. It opens on April 25, 2012 and runs until July 1, 2012.

The story is based on the columnist Joseph Alsop whose writings appeared in newspapers from 1930's thru 1974. From 1945 to 1958 he co-wrote a column with his brother Stewart called "Matter of Fact". His brother went on to write for the Saturday Evening Post. Eleanor Roosevelt was a first cousin. He was educated at Harvard and Yale. Joseph was married to Susan Mary Jay Patten. He had two step children. They were divorced in 1978. Joseph kept his homosexuality a secret. "At the center of Washington life, he was, loved, hated and feared in equal measure". (Newsweek 3/26/12). When he retired in 1974 his Washington political column appeared in three hundred newspapers, three days a week. He died in 1989.

David Auburn is the playwright. He is best known for his 2000 play "Proof" which won the 2001 Tony Award for Best Play and the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

John Lithglow has appeared on Broadway twenty one times. Among the shows he has played in "The Changing Room" (1973) He won a Tony for this role. "Requiem for a Heavy Weight" (1985), "M Butterfly" (1988), "Sweet Smell of Success" (2002), "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" (2005). All of which he was nominated for a Tony Award. In 1983 he was nominated for an Academy Award for "Terms of Endearment".

Stephen Kunken was nominated for a Tony Award in 2010 for "Enron".

Boyd Gaines has won four Tony Awards. They are Feature Actor in a Play "The Heidi Chronicles" (1989), Leading Actor in a Musical "She loves Me" (1994), Feature Actor in a Musical "Contact" (2000) and Feature Actor in a Musical "Gypsy, a Musical Fable" (2008).

The scenic design is by John Lee Beatty. This season's he has done the scenic design for "Venus in Fur", Other Desert Cities", "Hugh Jackman" and "Don't Dress for Dinner". He won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Set Design in 1980 for "Tally's Folly".

The play begins in Joseph Alsop study. The shelves are lined with books. Joseph is typing. The next scene it's 1957 and he is in Moscow hotel room. A man comes out of the bathroom, he doesn't know that pictures have been taken by the KGB of him having sex.

The next scene we are in the living room of his house on the night of John F. Kennedy inauguration ball. His brother Stewart (Boyd Gaines) is with him. Joe wants him to come back and write with him again but he doesn't want to. Joseph fiancee Susan (Margaret Colin) and her daughter Abigail (Grace Gummer) are with him.

Abgail stepfather Joseph helps her with her school work.

Times passes the rumors and the photo's surface of his tryst in Moscow. A fellow reporter Halberstam (Stephen Kunken) gives Stewart a heads up about this.

Kennedy is killed and he is heart broken over it. Joseph is no fan of LBJ and every chance he gets he zings him in his column. His marriage ends. In all he keeps on writing. Nothing stops him.

This is one interesting, refreshing play worth seeing.

John and Boyd interact well with each other. There is a feeling of brotherhood between them. If you see picture of the real Joseph Alsop, you would think John was him. Looks and action convince you he is. John is first class in this role. Boyd is sincere and convincing as the loving brother.

Steve is mild mannered and cool in his role.

Gracie Gummer holds her own and is a force to be reckon with.

Everyone was believable. Each out shined the other.

I hope the shows set design gets a Tony nomination. The stage rotates around. There's the study/work area, living room, hotel room, park and other places. The thing I liked especially was when a scene is finished a sentence appears on the top of the stage as Joseph has just typed it. Letters appear all over the stage.

Review by Rozanna Radakovich.

Photos by Annazor

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