Tuesday, August 31, 2010

KEVIN KLINE

Yes, Kevin Kline is an Tony winning, Oscar-winning actor who can do anything -- sensitive guy (in "The Big Chill") to utterly nutty eccentric ("A Fish Called Wanda"), and right now he's into playing a wildly freaky, penniless social escort to wealthy widows, in "The Extra Man," a new movie that's getting raves.

I can't help stopping what I planned to write today, and drifting into memories of Kevin, Madeline Kahn, and John Cullum back in 1978, remembering "On the Twentieth Century," the musical the three of them were in.

It's all mixed in with Hal Prince, the producer, director, and Larry Fuller the choreographer; the rehearsals, the staging -- Kevin and John doing a duet together called "Mine" -- where John Cullum, unstoppably creative, was across the stage from Kevin, unstoppably creative.

I was at a lot of the rehearsals, saw all the previews, and of course I was at the opening night performances. Behind the scenes JC and I worked, and "upped" (yes, made even more tricky, amusing, and acrobatically inventive) some of his staging. Though Larry was an excellent choreographer, he wouldn't have asked JC to sing a high note when JC was lying upside down on the floor.

They were fun days, exciting days, with everyone in rapport, but I was on tiptoe, carefully wondering what to say to JC about Kevin ... say nothing about this fantastically talented younger actor, who was as agile, strong-voiced, powerfully interesting as JC, who sometimes up-staged John?

Well ... Kevin won the Tony for "Best Supporting Actor in a Musical," but JC won the Tony as "Best Actor in a Musical."

Nevertheless, Kevin's gifts -- that he could sing while playing the piano, that he could be an MC and control huge audiences, that Kevin's abilities as a dancer were as good as my husband's -- oh dear -- were they better?

I have to say that Kevin Kline, whom we (JC and I) know personally and love and admire, IS a uniquely wonderful actor who has had more "success" in films, and theater than my husband -- "success" being fame, luck, fortune, rewards, awards.

Even so, Kevin is not a better actor than John, but he's the only actor around (so I'm excluding Richard Burton and Alec Guinness) that I admire as much as I admire John Cullum.

What more can I say?

I continue to think my husband is the number one best actor/man in the world, my world, even as I celebrate Kevin 's brilliance, and realize Kevin's continuing to grow, getting better and better, and better.

2 comments:

Carola said...

I love Kevin Kline. If he's in a movie, I'll make sure to see that movie. Of course he was great in many movies, but I'll never forget him in The Pirates of Penzance.

Kevin Daly said...

The original cast album of "On the Twentieth Century" was my first introduction to JC way back in 2001. Been an admirer ever since. I still remember the first listen - I was driving to my prospective college to have a look around and was more taken with the score than the school. It's delightful hearing Kline when he was just starting to "break out" - and it seems he can do just about everything, too.

Do you have any more insight into the departure of Madeline Kahn from the show? I've read the two sides of the story from Prince and Kahn, but can't help but wonder if there was more to it...

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