He'll star in Miller's 'Mr. Peter's Connections'

Peter Falk returns to Broadway to star in the premiere of Arthur Miller’s play “Mr. Peters’ Connections.” It is Falk’s first time on stage since 1970 when he starred in Neil Simon’s “Prisoner of 2nd Ave.” with Lee Grant and directed by Mike Nichols. (By the way, Falk did not do the movie — it was Jack Lemmon who co-starred with Anne Bancroft with Gene Saks directing the movie version.)

Asked how this offer came about, Falk remarked “That’s the same question I asked Miller — ‘Why me?’ He said he didn’t know many actors so he checked with his son-in-law, Daniel Day-Lewis, and the son-in-law said, ‘Try Falk.’ I fluttered a couple of feathers when I heard that,” Falk laughed.

Falk started his career onstage, noting he got lucky with his second job: “A smash hit — Jose Quintero’s revival of ‘The Iceman Cometh’ starring Jason Robards. I was never offstage for four hours.”

Falk describes “Mr. Peters’ Connections” “as a hilarious comedy about an ex-fighter pilot from WWII — who is now older than anyone he ever knew. He is mystified by the contemporary scene — for instance, ‘Why would penile augmentation cost $ 4,400 and hymen reconstruction $ 400 less?’ ”

Falk tells me, “I can’t begin to capture the essence of this monumentally imaginative piece — but I can thank Mr. Miller for creating a character that I’ll love with all my heart. Mr. Miller has done an interesting thing — his character has an emotional reaction first and he’s not sure of the event that produced it. So if he smiles, it’s tinged with puzzlement because he’s not quite sure why he’s happy. Obviously these abrupt changes of mood without any preface are dramatically arresting. That’s a fancy way of saying, ‘That’s good for the actor.’ ”

Falk has agreed to a limited run of the play, eight weeks beginning previews April 28 at the Signature Theatre Company’s new home at 555 West 42nd St. Opening night is skedded for May 10.

Garry Hynes directs and the play is presented by the Signature Theatre Company’s James Houghton and Thomas Proehl. Falk works gratis.

Meanwhile Monday, Falk starts another of his “Columbo” (started in 1968) TV movies for ABC. How many more will the five-time Emmy-winning (for “Columbo”) actor do? “There’s no formula — when we get a good script — we do it.”

Patrick McGoohan, two time Emmy winner for a supporting actor in “Columbo” shows, will again guestar, playing a mortician to the stars. “It’s a very amusing piece,” laughs Falk. Sally Kellerman plays a TV tabloid columnist-widow of cowboy star, “Chick Huston.”

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