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A tale of two openings

'Moscow' wows but auds divided over 'Yogi'

In today’s watch-and-run approach to theatergoing, three curtain calls is a lot, even on opening night.

Eileen Atkins, Ben Chaplin and John Lithgow looked surprised when Thursday’s preem audience brought them back to the Booth stage for that increasingly rare third bow. But where was the playwright of “The Retreat From Moscow”?

“I wasn’t asked,” William Nicholson said afterward at the Laura Belle party. “I didn’t want to thrust myself into the situation. I’m not sure what the tradition is here. Still, you have these fantasies of an opening night where everyone is yelling, ‘Author! Author!’ ”

Three nights later, at the opening fete for Ben Gazzara‘s one-man turn in “Nobody Don’t Like Yogi,” the crowd at Charlotte restaurant was as divided as the critics: Either they really liked Nicholson’s drama of a broken marriage (“I loved it”) or really didn’t like it (“I walked out during intermission”).

So far, no one knows what Yogi Berra thinks of Gazzara’s impersonation in the Tom Lysaght play. “He has been very quiet, but I think he’ll come around,” the actor said.

Gazzara, Broadway’s original Brick Pollitt, won’t be offering any opinion on Jason Patric‘s interp in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” set to open Sunday.

“Thomas Wolfe wrote something about not going home again,” said Gazzara, who claims never to have revisited the play in the intervening five decades.

“Cat” preceded Gazzara’s film career, and he said he harbored no qualms about playing a gay character way back when.

“All during rehearsals, no one — not even Gadge (Elia Kazan) or Tennessee Williams — mentioned the word ‘homosexual.’ It was all about ‘friendship.’ “

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