The Misbegotten Are Not Forgotten
"Actors are awfully stupid creatures. They tend to judge the success of anything by the volume of laughter, and that isn't always so. Hard laughter really takes you out of the play. I think, when you're really in the play, you don't need that much laughter." That's Roy Dotrice, rationalizing the understated opening-night audience for A Moon for the Misbegotten. The morning reviews pumped up the volume, and Dotrice may well find himself Tony-nominated; he gets plenty of laughs (especially for an O'Neill play), and he does a drunk scene that's dangerously disorienting. After the opening, Dotrice looked very much the patriarch, surrounded at Tavern on the Green by friends and family from London, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. Heading the California contingent was daughter Karen Dotrice, who says she happily retired from acting at age 26, having begun as one of Mary Poppins' charges and ended on the road as Desdemona to James Earl Jones' Othello.
Gabriel Byrne, meanwhile, in his Broadway debut as the haunted James Tyrone, Jr., found none of it easy: "It's kinda like doing the New York Marathon and somebody says, 'Are you enjoying the marathon?' when you have another 12 miles to go. I think the enjoyment comes on the last night of the last performance, when you can say, 'I climbed the mountain. I did it.'"
Co-star Cherry Jones seconded the feeling of constant chaos in getting this Moon to shine on Broadway: "Our last Saturday matinee was the first relaxed performance we've had--and, basically, the only relaxed performance we've had. It gave us hope for where we can go now. Now that the pressure of opening has been alleviated, we can just do the play."