Does 'Orphans' manage to get by without Shia LaBeouf?
The Broadway production of Lyle Kessler's 'Orphans' starring Alec Baldwin, opened at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on Thursday evening (April 18, 2013), after a chaotic build-up that saw lead star Shia LaBeouf walk out of rehearsals. The play follows two orphaned brothers living in a decrepit North Philadelphia row house. The eldest (originally played by Shia, now by Ben Foster) supports his younger sibling (Tom Sturridge) by stealing before kidnapping a rich old man (Baldwin) who becomes the father figure the boys never had.
Alec Baldwin [L] and Tom Sturridge [R] Star in Orphans On Broadway
LaBeouf departed after a highly publicized disagreement with Alec Baldwin, with private emails making their way online. "I can tell you that, in all honesty, I don't think he's in a good position to be giving interpretations of what the theater is and what the theater isn't," Baldwin told Vulture.com afterwards. However, the Transformers actor showed up on the front row for the previews at the end of March and led a resounding standing ovation when it finished.
The opening night didn't elicit the same response, with Ben Brantley of the New York Times writing, "...this version somehow plays like a sentimental sitcom, perhaps a low-rent "Modern Family."...The first problem with Mr. Sullivan's production is that nobody exudes a sense of, or even a sense of hunger for, power."
Tom Sturridge, Alec Baldwin and Ben Foster in Orphans
Mark Kennedy at the Associated Press was pretty scathing, writing, "...it's not always clear why we have to fight to get a ticket. It's a testosterone-laden darkly humorous piece that offers three great parts - a mentally challenged young man, a bubbling eruption of male anger and a cool-as-ice older dude - but generates little light."
There were some good reviews however, with David Rooney of the Hollywood Reporter calling it "dynamite," adding, "Packaged as a post-30 Rock return to the stage for Baldwin, this is a scorching display of ensemble acting in which the star is evenly matched by riveting performances from Ben Foster and Tom Sturridge." Jesse Green at Vulture said, "It's undeniably a pleasure to hand yourself over to Baldwin for two hours."
The Original 'Orphans' Poster Featuring Shia LaBeouf
Orphans is playing at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre until June 30, 2013.