Viewing page 5 of 33

FEBRUARY 1997             

4  On the Aisle, by Harry Haun
6  Theatre Quiz, by Andrew Gans
9  A Present of Laughter, by Harry Haun
12 What He Does for Love, by Mervyn Rothstein
32 At This Theatre, by Louis Botto
35 Theatre Scenes
39 A Theatregoer's Notebook, by Kathy Henderson
40 Taylor Made for Broadway, by Jerry Tallmer
44 Stage Directions from The League
45 Dining & Entertainment Guide
50 Celebrity Choice/After Theatre, by Bob Edison

Editor: Judy Samelson
Senior Editor: Louis Botto
Associate Editor: Andrew Gans
Program Editors: Sandra Mardenfeld, Kevin Reardon

Managing Editor/Playbill On-line: Robert Viagas
Webmaster: Andrew C. McGibbon
Associate Editor/Playbill On-line: Katia Lundy
Regional Database Manager: Blair Glaser

Advertising Sales: 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, 11th Floor 
New York, NY 10017 212-557-5757

General Sales Director: L. Robert Charles
National Sales Director: Thomas A. Steinfeld
West Coast Sales Director: Elaine Klein
Restaurant/Entertainment Sales: Irv Winick
General Sales: Patrick E. McCaughey, Glenn Shaevitz,
               Lawrence K. Miller, Glenn A. Asciutto
Theatre Advertising: Joel Wyman
Sales Promotion: Larry Bialock
Sales Assistants: Lilian Richman, Marie Amsterdam, Ruthe Schnell

Publisher: Philip S. Birch
Controller: Lewis Cole
Director of Manufacturing: Robert Cusanelli
Production Manager: Susan Maebert
Assistant to the Publisher: Bruce Stapleton
Communications: Oldyna Dynowska, Anne Ros

President: Arthur T. Birsh
Vice President: Joan Alleman
Secretary/Treasurer: Russell Cannizzaro

PLAYBILL® is a registered trademark of Playbill Incorporated © Copyright 1997. Reproduction in whole or part without permission is prohibited. Licensed Theatre Editions: Boston and Philadelphia/Baltimore. New York, Florida and Texas editions of Playbill are published by Playbill incorporated, 52 Vanderbilt Ave., New York, NY 10017. 212-557-5757. Printed in U.S.A. 

PLAYBILL®-THE NATIONAL MAGAZINE OF THEATRE, available monthly to subscribers for $24 per year (U.S.); $31 (outside U.S.). Opening Night service and current issues available. Inquire for details. 

TV • Stereo • Full Bar • Fast, Luxurious Service
Stretch Limousines at Taxi Prices
[[image - sketch of a limousine]]

Prices for Stretch Limos: 
NYC to LaGauardia --------- $20
NYC to Kennedy ------------ $30
NYC to Newark ------------- $30

Just call us by our name...
(800) } ABSOLUTE
(212) }
(718) 2276588

7 Days • 24 Hours • Major Credit Cards • Tips and Tolls Excluded

A Present of Laughter

Frank Langella's gloriously riotous performance in Noel Coward's Present Laughter bears the mark of a master stylist at work

[[image - photograph of Frank Langella]]

[[image - photograph of Frank Langella and Allison Janney-the not-so-estranged couple of Noel Coward's Present Laughter]]

Unlike Garry Essendine, the perpetually preening matinee idol he sends up in Noel Coward's Present Laughter, Frank Langella does his real-life living in a living room void of mirrors. Nothing floor-length or hand-held. Nothing covert or conspicuous. Nada. But this is not to say his likeness is not sufficiently represented. It is-in spectacular spades: Adorning every wall is a theatrical caricature that catches him at a particular high point in his career-Dracula, The Father, Sherlock's Last Case (as director), Design for Living, et al. Running dizzily around the room as they do, they start to resemble after a while an Al Hirschfeld fire sale, speaking volumes for a life well-spent in the theatre. 

"It's a very interesting thing to have people tell you that you're 'well-cast' or 'born to play this part'" he says, a smile playing his lips. "In point of fact, I play an egocentric, vain, self-involved, self-loving hedonist."

In short, an actor. And, surprisingly enough given his grand theatrical manner, it's only the second time in his life he has ever essayed a member of his profession. The other time was the Old Granddad of em' all-Junius Booth, patriarch of Edwin and John Wilkes-in an Austin Pendleton opus that played on a much darker side of the footlights than Present Laughter.

"Whenever I do comedy, people always say, 'I didn't know you do comedy.' I've actually done more of that than I've done serious plays. One should never down-grade it. There's nothing more exciting than doing this play and listening to people laugh with the gusto that they do. This is just as valid to me as doing a piece as shattering as The Father."

Be it comedy or drama, there is no question that, at 57 (just turned, the first day of this year), Langella is acting at the top of his art. Last season he pretty much capped the drama category with an elegant

by Harry Haun

Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact