New in 2017 Two-time Tony winner and Oscar nominee John Lithgow returns to Broadway in a solo show that traces his roots as an actor and storyteller, working classic short stories by P. G. Wodehouse and and Ring Lardner - read to him as a child - into his own narrative.
The Broadway production of John Lithgow: Stories by Heart closed March 4, 2018. For current Broadway show listings and tickets, please click here.
From the producers: Virtuosity and imagination combine in one utterly unique event, as Tony and Emmy Award winner John Lithgow creates a singularly intimate evening. With equal measures of humor and heart, he evokes memories of family, explores and expands the limits of the actor’s craft, and masterfully conjures a cast of indelible characters from classic short stories by Ring Lardner and P. G. Wodehouse. Lithgow elevates the magic of storytelling to masterful new heights, with a performance The New York Times calls “a tour de force.”
John Lithgow was last seen on Broadway in 2014 opposite Glenn Close in Edward Albee’s "A Delicate Balance." He is a two-time Tony Award winner for his performances in "Sweet Smell of Success" and "The Changing Room." He is also a two-time Academy Award nominee for the films "Terms of Endearment" and "The World According to Garp."
The Broadway premiere of "Stories by Heart" marks the culmination of the show’s development over several years. The evening of storytelling was first presented at Lincoln Center Theater in 2008 before heading to theatres across the country whenever the actor’s schedule could allow. Tony-winner Daniel Sullivan ("Proof," "The Little Foxes") directs the Broadway premiere.
What's the Roundabout? One of the great nonprofit dreadnoughts of the New York theater scene, the Roundabout has three Broadway venues and an Off-Broadway stage in midtown. Prominent artists are usually engaged, significant work is usually done, and even at the smallest of the theaters, the work has the uniform quality that one would expect from such a large and prominent shop. More here.
Lithgow's show is framed in family history, but no skeletons are exposed, unless you count the love of theater he carries in his bones. "Haircut," takes up most of the first act; Lithgow livens it with deft tonsorial pantomime and a sense of dawning realization on the part of the garrulous narrator. The centerpiece of Act Two is [the] zany "Uncle Fred Flits By," a quaint and slender tale - more jam than scone - but Lithgow's love of sharing it is infectious. Likable though the stories themselves may be, the heart of this show is in their telling.
This is ultimately a basic piece of theater that never really digs below its cozy, slightly drab surface. As an actor, Lithgow does brilliant work here. But the play itself is clunky and a smidge too earnest for its own good. The actor-playwright's relatively short descriptions of what the stories mean to him - of the role they've played in his life - wind up more compelling than the stories themselves.