MvVO Art Launches AD ART SHOW
Broadway

The Talented John Lithgow Can’t Save Stories By Heart

The Talented John Lithgow Can’t Save Stories By Heart

“Arthur Lithgow’s children always had a much higher opinion of their father than he did of himself.”

John Lithgow

John Lithgow

There is no doubt that John Lithgow is a talented, charismatic actor who can dominate a stage, even a Broadway one by himself.  This multi-award-winning actor has won accolades for his TV work in 3rd Rock From The Sun, Dexter and most recently The Crown. He has won Tony and Drama Desk awards for his work in Sweet Smell of Success, Requiem of a Heavyweight and The Changing Room. He was nominated for his work in The Columnist, Dirty Rotten Schoudrals, Mrs. Farnsworth and M. Butterfly. 

John Lithgow

John Lithgow

In his one man show Stories By Heart, Lithgow is not only acting, but has written this semi autobiographical piece. From the moment he steps out on stage, he has a has a warm and commanding presence that engulfs you. The set is simple, a large wooden room with an arm chair, stool, small table and chair. It is from here Lithgow draws us into his childhood asking “Why do all of us want to hear stories? Why do some of us want to tell them? Why, for that matter, are all of you even here tonight, staring at me for two hours, listening to me talk, talk, talk?”

The show is a remembrance of his father Arthur Lithgow, who passed away in 2004. Arthur taught and produced Shakespeare plays like Titus Andronicus. “That’s the one where the queen is tricked into eating meat pies made out of her own two dead sons.” Lithgow saw this play when he was eight. His family was eccentric and his childhood, filled with his father reading from a book called Tellers of Tales. This 80 years old, 1,500 pages book contained 100 classic short stories, selected by W. Somerset Maugham. This book appears on stage, as the one and only prop. Inside its beloved pages are stories by Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jack London, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and “Colette, for God’s sake.” It is in hearing the memory sense part of the play, that this show excels.

John Lithgow

John Lithgow

We are treated to two of the stores in the book. The first is Ring Lardner’s “Haircut”. This story of small town American life, is a gruesome tale of adultery, misogyny, and murder. As you are hearing this story, you are struck with the why’s of it. Nobody in this story is likable, therefore who wants to hear it?  I watched as much of the audience took a nap.

Another problem with this piece, is during the story Lithgow as the barber is shaving and cutting a customer, yet the district lines of the customer are never drawn. I had not a clue of who was in that chair and for that I blame director Daniel Sullivan.

Act 2 finds us in the throws of “Uncle Fred Flits By,” by P.G. Wodehouse.
 Much funnier, but again few people in this story have a moral clause. In both of these stories, the humans are into using others for their own mirth. I don’t find this funny, nor is it something I want to watch. Lithgow makes all of these characters come alive, but the problem for me and it seems a lot of the people I was sitting near, is we didn’t want to see them.

I understand that Lithgow wanted to pay tribute to his dad, but why are we here? The stories are masterfully told, but going back to Lithgow’s first question “Why do all of us want to hear stories?”, the reason is to learn, to become emotionally connected and to be entertained, and I was none of these. I am a huge Lithgow fan, but I would rather see him take on a character and dig deep into their recesses like Winston Churchill in The Crown, than tell stories that hurt my heart.

 

John Lithgow Stories By Heart: American Airlines Theatre, 227 W. 42nd St., through March 4.

Broadway

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. Currently she has a screenplay in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She was the Broadway Informer on the all access cable TV Show “The New Yorkers,” soon to be “The Tourist Channel.” email: suzanna@t2conline.com

More in Broadway

Annette Bening

Annette Bening and Tony Award winner Tracy Letts To Star in Arthur Miller’s All My Sons

Suzanna BowlingSeptember 20, 2018
The Lifespan of a fact

The Lifespan Of A Fact With Daniel Radcliffe, Cherry Jones and Bobby Cannavale Offer Rush Tickets

Suzanna BowlingSeptember 19, 2018

Audra McDonald, Kelli O’Hara and Jeremy Jordan Announced for Launch of Broadway @ The Town Hall Concert Series with Seth Rudetsky

Suzanna BowlingSeptember 19, 2018
Rehearsals Begin For Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song

Rehearsals Begin For Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song

Suzanna BowlingSeptember 19, 2018
The Fabulous Invilid, Jamie Du Mont,Leslie Kritzer,Jennifer Simard, Rob Russo

Leslie Kritzer and Jennifer Simard Star In New Podcast

Suzanna BowlingSeptember 18, 2018
Michael Riedel, Susan Haskins

Theater Talks Closes Up Shop After 26 Years

Suzanna BowlingSeptember 16, 2018
St. Malachy's

The Actors’ Chapel Helps Pray in the New Year Broadway Season

Suzanna BowlingSeptember 16, 2018
Linda Eder

Linda Eder Bring Her Back Home To Broadway

Suzanna BowlingSeptember 16, 2018
Times Square

Theatre Listings

Suzanna BowlingSeptember 16, 2018