Dennehy double-bill gets good notices

Producers of the double bill of one-acts “Hughie” and “Krapp’s Last Tape,” toplined by Brian Dennehy, announced their Broadway intentions before it even began perfs at Chicago’s Goodman Theater, where the show opened Jan. 25.

The Verdict looks at critical reaction to key productions opening Off Broadway, regionally and abroad that appear likely candidates for further life on Broadway and/or elsewhere.

No transfer timeline has officially been announced, and concrete details — including the team of producers interested in moving the production — are said to be up in the air. There’s also a Broadway real estate crunch to contend with in a very crowded spring that may not have a theater to spare.

Still, Dennehy’s acting showcase in Eugene O’Neill’s “Hughie” (helmed by Goodman a.d. Robert Falls) and Samuel Beckett’s “Krapp’s” (directed by Jennifer Tarver) earned strong notices in its 2008 preem at the Stratford Shakespeare Fest. And the current thumbs-up from Windy City critics seems likely to spur continued interest in a New York run.

  • Writing in Variety, Steven Oxman said, “The mostly obsolete art of the double bill gets an awfully nice lift with this evocative pairing.” He goes on to call Dennehy’s two perfs “significantly transformative” in a couple of “concise but expansively expressive works.”

  • The Chicago Tribune’s Chris Jones called the show a “quirky-but-deft pairing” that proves “a bravura piece of contrasting acting” for Dennehy. He also suggested the production, although likely a tough commercial sell, would still work creatively on the Rialto: “I find this unusual evening of theater a rich and deeply worthwhile exploration, whatever the venue. And there’s no question that these pieces work perfectly well in a large theater.”

  • In the Sun-Times, Hedy Weiss wrote that while auds may have become accustomed to Dennehy’s ease with O’Neill (in earlier Chi perfs of “The Iceman Cometh,” “Desire Under the Elms” and even “Hughie”), his turn in “Krapp’s” will make theatergoers sit up. “Dennehy has simply never been better,” she wrote, in a “knockout performance.”

  • Kris Vire in Time Out Chicago gave the show four stars out of five and joined the raves for Dennehy’s perfs. Suggesting the show could play well on Broadway, the critic said “Hughie” “feels somehow even more intimate than it did in the smaller theater.”
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