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Mike Fleming Interviews Director Mike Nichols; Will ‘Death Of A Salesman’ Revival Bring Him Ninth Tony Award?

By | Wednesday May 30, 2012 @ 10:29am PDT
Mike Fleming

Death Of A Salesman Mike NicholsAt age 80, director Mike Nichols has won eight Tony Awards, and is a frontrunner to add another with Death Of A Salesman. The revival of Arthur Miller’s 1949 groundbreaking play is up for seven Tony Awards including Best Revival. Nichols chose Philip Seymour Hoffman for Willy Loman, the world-weary salesman on the downside of the American dream; Andrew Garfield as son Biff; Finn Wittrock as son Hap; and Linda Emond as Linda Loman. The show just became the rare straight play to crack $1 million for a week’s worth of performances, through the Memorial Day holiday. That is the seventh time the limited-run play broke the house record for the Barrymore Theatre. The limited run ends Saturday. Here, Nichols discusses a play which wears out its cast nightly but clearly has reinvigorated its director.

DEADLINE: Give me a second while I start the tape recorder.
NICHOLS: Tape recorder? I thought this interview was going to be off the record.

DEADLINE: This is one that should be on the record. Your production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman might be the best received version since the very first in 1949. At the risk of betraying myself a cultural cretin, yours was the first Salesman I saw, and so for me the title was a real spoiler.Death Of A Salesman
NICHOLS: Because it told you what was going to happen? The very first producer they went to thought that and wanted them to change it but he wouldn’t. So they had to go to the second producer.

DEADLINE: Why take on The Great American play?
NICHOLS: Several things. Most great plays of the past lose their grip on immediacy; on application to our lives right now. That is the opposite of the case with Salesman. Take, for instance A Streetcar Named Desire, which is one of the reasons I’m in the theater. I had a girlfriend who got us the very fancy theater tickets when I was in high school. Believe it or not, we saw it the second night. We were so stunned by it we didn’t get up to pee, we didn’t talk; we just sat poleaxed for the three hours or so. And to this day I still remember it as the only thing I’ve ever seen that was a hundred percent real and a hundred percent poetic at the same time. And then about sometime later, maybe a year later, we saw Salesman. It was no longer the number one cast. Lee J. Cobb was already out of it. He only did it three and a half months because it’s a part that just kills the actors. Read More »

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‘Death Of A Salesman, ‘Other Desert Cities’, ‘Once’, ‘Follies’ Top Drama League Awards

By | Friday May 18, 2012 @ 2:32pm PDT


Other Desert Cities
Lincoln Center Theatre
Andre Bishop, Artistic Director; Bernard Gersten, Executive Producer

Death of a Salesman
Ethel Barrymore Theatre
Scott Rudin, Stuart Thompson, Jon B. Platt, Columbia Pictures, Jean Doumanian,
Merritt Forrest Baer, Roger Berlind, Scott M. Delman, Sonia Friedman Productions,
Ruth Hendel, Carl Moellenberg, Scott and Brian Zerlinger, Eli Bush, producers

New York Theatre Workshop/Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre
Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo,
Brian Carmody, Michael G. Wilson, Orin Wolf, The Shubert Organization,
Robert Cole, New York Theatre Workshop, producers

Marquis Theatre
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (David M. Rubenstein, Chairman;
Michael M. Kaiser, President; Max A. Woodward, Vice President), Nederlander Presentations Inc.,
Adrienne Arsht, HRH Foundation, Allan Williams, producers

Audra McDonald
The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess

Alan Menken

Rosie O’Donnell

Diane Paulus

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Willy Loman Finally Wins: ‘Death Of A Salesman’ Revival In Profits

Mike Fleming

The Mike Nichols-directed revival of Arthur Miller’s Death Of A Salesman will recoup its $3.1 million capitalization this week. The limited run play, a staggeringly good production of one of the great American plays, stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Andrew Garfield and Linda Emond. It’s up for seven Tony Awards.

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How ‘Death Of A Salesman’ Success And ‘Hunger Games’ Show Good Material Matched With Execution Still Wins The Day

Mike Fleming

The Broadway revival of Arthur Miller’s Death Of A Salesman came out of the gate and broke the house record for the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. It needed only seven performances in that first week to post a $780,000 gross. The star cast certainly helps–Mike Nichols directing Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amazing-Spiderman star Andrew Garfield and Linda Emond–but it’s a becoming a word of mouth hit and is a hot ticket until its limited run ends June 2, that will most certainly sell out long before that.

It shows what can happen when storied subject matter is handled skilfully with experienced directors and strong producers, which to me is the neat thing about the staggering weekend gross of The Hunger Games. Having read that book while Deadline was revealing the construction of that movie from the hiring of Gary Ross as director to the film’s casting, I was intrigued by the ways that director Gary Ross bobbed and weaved around gruesome plot points of that book, softening them to make the film palatable for younger audiences, while still maintaining the edge, the menace of an oppressive totalitarian regime, and the terror felt by teens thrust against their will into a bloodsport arena.

Ross’s accomplishment makes me wonder if Hollywood will rethink its current infatuation with entrusting gigantic budget movies to first time directors. Even … Read More »

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