How was Katie Holmes in “All My Sons” on Broadway?
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Much fanfare surrounded Thursday night’s opening of the highly anticipated Broadway revival of ‘All My Sons.’ Sure, this was Arthur Miller’s classic 1947 play, featuring a powerful slate of Broadway veterans: John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest and Patrick Wilson. But the biggest reason for all the buzz was Katie Holmes, aka Mrs. Tom Cruise, making her debut on the Great White Way.
For the most part, critics praised individual performances in the drama about the Keller family, whose patriarch, Joe, was involved in selling defective airplane parts to the military during World War II, resulting in the deaths of 21 pilots. But they were mixed when it came to British director Simon McBurney’s staging.
Here’s what they had to say.
Ben Brantley of the New York Times: ‘Mr. McBurney has staged Miller’s tale of a self-deluding, guilt- crippled American family with the ritualistic formality and sense of inexorability of Aeschylus and Sophocles. Would that he could summon the primal power associated with those ancients.’ Of Holmes, he says, ‘Ms. Holmes delivers most of her lines with meaningful asperity, italicizing every word.’
Says David Rooney of Variety: ‘Pairing Arthur Miller’s probing social realism with Brit director Simon McBurney’s multidisciplinary experimental approach was a gamble, but the payoff in ‘All My Sons’ is considerable. Holmes, he says,'handles her role as death’s messenger with neither distinction nor embarrassment. She lacks the technique to match her co-stars’ depths...’
Elysa Gardner of USA Today says of Holmes: ‘At best, she exhibits a girlish exuberance that could serve her well in certain stage roles, provided she finds a director who can ease her obvious self-consciousness and get her to focus on the often-intricate process of character development. Sadly, Simon McBurney, who helms this production, is not that director.’
Says Michael Kuchwara of the Associated Press: ‘McBurney’s vision is grandiose, almost operatic in nature. Holmes, playing Chris’ fiancee and daughter of the jailed business partner, has a striking physical presence, although not much vocal variety.’
Linda Winer of Newsday says Holmes is ‘earnest and pretty, like a talented girl in a school play. The real news, however, is the high-concept rethinking by director Simon McBurney.’
Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune says there is a ‘disconnect between the staging and the play.’ And, he notes, ‘Holmes does not embarrass herself in any way. But you wish she channeled a little more of her modest origins in Toledo, Ohio, and a little less of her current heightened reality.’
-- Lisa Fung
Top photo: ‘All My Sons,’ featuring, from left, John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest, Patrick Wilson and Katie Holmes.
Center photo: Holmes and Lithgow.
Photos by Joan Marcus