Kevin Kline and Kate Burton. Photo by Joan Marcus.
The reviews are in for Kevin Kline’s return to Broadway in Noël Coward’s outrageously irresistible backstage comedy, directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel.
By Noël Coward
Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel
Cast: Kevin Kline, Kate Burton, Kristine Nielsen, Cobie Smulders, Bhavesh Patel, Reg Rogers, Matt Bittner, Ellen Harvey, Peter Francis James, Tedra Millan, Sandra Shipley, Kelley Curran, Rachel Pickup, James Riordan, David L. Townsend
Playing through July 2, 2017
Ben Brantley – New York Times
It’s high time we were reminded again of what a great physical comedian Kevin Kline is. Playing an aging matinee idol in the bouncy new revival of Noël Coward’s “Present Laughter,” Mr. Kline blissfully plies the witty athleticism and derring-do that won him two Tony Awards (“On the 20th Century,” “The Pirates of Penzance”) and an Oscar (“A Fish Called Wanda”) in his youth.
Jeremy Gerard – Deadline
All of which is to say that Moritz von Stuelpnagel’s revival (he directed Hand To God) is fleet, funny, deliciously cast and over the top when it should be – and occasionally when it needn’t be, sweating just a bit too hard to earn the audience’s whoops of pleasure. Fortunately, Coward and Kline are too dynamic a duo to suffer any damage from such picked nits.
Marilyn Stasio – Variety
Whatever would we do without Kevin Kline? In an age of lesser stars, he’s a bona fide matinee idol of the ideal age and with the urbane sensibility to do justice to sophisticated scribes like Noel Coward. “Present Laughter” is a delicious drawing-room comedy that Coward dashed off in 1942 to amuse himself and his friends, while engaging in a bit of sober self-reflection. Kline relishes the comic challenge in this snazzy production directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel.
Alexis Soloski – The Guardian
Dressing gown enthusiasts can rejoice at the return of Garry Essendine in the latest Broadway revival of Present Laughter. Not that Garry ever stays offstage very long. Noël Coward’s creation, he made his debut in 1942, played by his author, and hasn’t strayed far from the boards ever since. Has he aged well? Yes and no, as demonstrated by Kevin Kline’s silky turn in the current production, a performance of stupefying charm that reveals some of the wrinkles and sag in the surrounding play.
David Rooney – The Hollywood Reporter
Talk about a match made in heaven. Kevin Kline was born to do Noel Coward, and his casting as Garry Essendine, the 1930s stage star and aging playboy at the center of his own eternal melodrama in Present Laughter, yields a performance of unimpeachable skill, made all the more delectable by its lightness of touch. Matching witty verbal jousts with florid gesticulation, and head-to-toe body language that constitutes its own uniquely refined brand of physical comedy, Kline etches a character pulled between conceited selfishness and encroaching melancholy, a coddled man-child helpless without a captive audience.
Joe Dziemianowicz – NY Daily News
Under the smart direction of Moritz von Stuelpnagel (“Hand to God”) the production is in fine feather. Costumes by Susan Hilferty reek period chic. The art-happy home, designed by David Zinn, is real-estate porn. And depending on the lighting (nice work, Justin Townsend) the walls are a fitting shade of peacock blue. Details, people. They’re everything.
Jesse Oxfeld – Entertainment Weekly
Kline appears to be having the time of his life onstage at the St. James Theatre, where the latest Broadway revival of this 1939 drawing-room comedy opened Wednesday. It’s a fast-paced and straightforward production, directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel, featuring two equally delightful and delighted costars — the goofily irresistible Kristine Nielsen as Essendine’s stalwart secretary, Monica, and Kate Burton, steely and wry as his devoted not-quite-ex-wife, Liz — plus a mixed bag of supporting players and a jam-packed Edwardian flat of a set, designed by David Zinn, that gets its own entrance applause.
Matthew Murray – Talkin’ Broadway
When you need gold-plated ham, who better to turn to than Kevin Kline? He captures theatricality in all its forms: He’s at once grand and intimate, comic and tragic, and expansive and pinpoint-precise, yet always anchored to the real world (or a reasonable facsimile). This makes him all but ideal for playing a close-kin creature from a previous era, Garry Essendine, the tumultuous and intemperate British theatre star who’s the central figure of Noël Coward’s Present Laughter. And in the new revival of the 1939 comedy (first staged on Broadway in 1946) that just opened at the St. James, Kline and Garry fuse so tightly and so well that you’re willing to overlook the other parts of Moritz von Stuelpnagel’s production that don’t.
Robert Hofler – The Wrap
“Present Laughter” is not “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” even though both plays date back to 1939, which was quite a year for comedy. A new revival of the Noel Coward classic about a narcissistic stage actor named Garry Essendine opened Wednesday at the St. James Theatre, and at times it plays like the Kaufman and Hart comedy under Moritz von Stuelpnagel’s not always steady direction. At other times, it is veddy British, proper, and absolutely terrific — especially when Kevin Kline and Kate Burton are on stage, which, fortunately, is most of the time.
Tim Teeman – The Daily Beast
There’s no real driving plot in Present Laughter, just a battery of Coward’s mots at their most bon. And like the best houseguest, just before it outstays its welcome, it takes its leave.
Roma Torre – NY1
“Present Laughter” is back on Broadway for the sixth time since it first opened in 1946, and you could say Noel Coward’s sublime comedy of manners is as delightful, delicious, and “delovely” as ever. And what makes the current production stand out even more is Kevin Kline’s bravura performance. After a ten-year absence, he is making a glorious return to the Great White Way.