STAR OF BROADWAY’S
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Brendan Fraser Gets Insane on a Broadway Stage
By MARK KENNEDY AP Drama Writer
NEW YORK November 19, 2010 (AP)
Brendan Fraser drew up one of the strangest to-do lists before making his Broadway debut.
First, he wanted to go to Oslo, Norway. There, he hoped to eat pork and gravy, walk by a lake, visit a mental institution, talk to social workers, grab a beer with some car mechanics, hang out at a poetry reading, munch on a hot dog, dial up a phone sex line and buy some comic books and porno.
“Oh yeah,” he says. “I also wanted to learn how to swear in Norwegian.”
All that was to get into character before hitting the stage in the New York premiere of “Elling,” a sort of “Odd Couple” set in modern-day Norway with two recently released mental patients.
That was the plan at least, but Fraser ran out of time at the end of the summer and never got a chance to get to Norway. He relied on notes from his co-star Denis O’Hare, YouTube videos, maps of Oslo and, oh yeah, the script.
“Everything you need to know as far as preparation, whether you’re doing Shakespeare or a contemporary piece, should all be right here,” he says, pointing to Simon Bent’s script. “And if it’s not, then there’s a clue about where to find it if you’re paying attention.”
Fraser may be better known for his comedic turns in “Dudley Do-Right” and “Bedazzled,” or his action movies such as the cadaver-bashing “The Mummy” franchise, or his more serious film roles like “Gods and Monsters” and “Crash,” but he has also ventured onto the stage.
He played Brick in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” in London in 2001 and starred in John Patrick Shanley’s “Four Dogs and a Bone” in 1995 at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. He looks tired but jazzed as he puts the finishing touches on “Elling.”
“In the end, it pretty much becomes about just brute memorization and burning calories. You put all the glittery bits aside,” he says while munching on almonds in his dressing room at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.
O’Hare, a Tony Award-winner, says he’s been impressed by how Fraser has thrown himself into the role. “This is an actor with immense bravery,” O’Hare says. “He has gone flat-out and has never winced once when our director, Doug Hughes, makes a criticism.”
Broadway’s new comedy ELLING starring Brendan Fraser, Denis O’Hare, Jennifer Coolidge, Richard Easton and Jeremy Shamos, directed by Doug Hughes, opens this Sunday, November 21. ELLING is currently in previews at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre (243 West 47th Street) and will play a strictly limited engagement through March 20, 2011.
ELLING is based on the popular original novels by Ingvar Ambjørnsen and adapted for the Oscar nominated film and the stage by Axel Hellstenius and Petter Næss, in a new English adaptation by critically hailed writer Simon Bent. ELLING played the West End and was nominated for the Lawrence Olivier Award for Comedy of the Year.
Set in the current day, ELLING is a comedy about a wildly mismatched pair of roommates trying to embrace life, love, friendship, pizza, poetry and women. Denis O’Hare plays obsessive/compulsive Elling. Brendan Fraser, plays the wildly enthusiastic gentle giant Kjell. Jennifer Coolidge plays Reidun, the object of Kjell’s considerable affection, Richard Easton plays Alfons, Elling’s unlikely poet mentor and Jeremy Shamos plays Frank, an inquisitive social worker.
The design team is comprised of Scott Pask (set), Kenneth Posner (lighting), Catherine Zuber (costumes) and David Van Tieghem (composer/sound designer).
Tickets are available through Telecharge.com or 212-239-6200, or in person at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 243 West 47th Street. Ticket prices range from $46.50 to $126.50 (all prices include $1.50 facilities fee).
The performance schedule is Tuesday through Saturday at 8pm, with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2pm and Sunday at 3pm. Beginning, Tuesday, November 23, all Tuesday performances will begin at 7pm. Thanksgiving week, there will be no performance on Thursday, November 25 and, an additional performance on Monday, November 22 at 7pm.