Dennehy tackles O'Neill's `Hughie' at the Goodman

Two-time Tony-Award-winning actor Brian Dennehy will perform the Eugene O'Neill one-act "Hughie" Oct. 21-Nov. 21 at the Goodman Theatre's Owen Theatre. The project continues Dennehy's relationships with both playwright Eugene O'Neill and director Robert Falls. The official opening is Oct. 25.

Dennehy plays Erie Smith, a low-rent gambler and Broadway sport in the waning days of the Jazz Age. Co-star Joe Grifasi plays the near-mute hotel clerk offering, reluctantly, Erie an early morning audience. The title refers to the previous hotel clerk, whose funeral Erie recently has attended.

Dennehy and Grifasi performed the piece earlier this year at Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, R.I. That version was directed by Catherine Baker Steindler, Falls' assistant on the Broadway revival of "Long Day's Journey Into Night." At the Goodman, Dennehy's previous O'Neill credits include "Long Day's Journey," "A Touch of the Poet" and "The Iceman Cometh."

Written in 1942 but not performed in the author's lifetime, "Hughie" has proved a magnet for major actors interested in testing their O'Neill mettle. Jason Robards, Ben Gazzara and Al Pacino have all taken it on. Dennehy told Boston Phoenix critic Carolyn Clay he admired Robards and Gazzara in earlier productions of "Hughie." But "that doesn't mean you don't try, when given the opportunity," Dennehy said.

Director Falls begins rehearsing "Hughie" directly after the Goodman opening of the new Arthur Miller play "Finishing the Picture."

"Hughie" tickets are available to Goodman subscribers Sept. 7 and to the general public Sept. 27 at 312-443-3800 or www.goodmantheatre.org.

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