Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Shalhoub Calls on an Old Friend in Portraying Noted Playwright

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Shalhoub Calls on an Old Friend in Portraying Noted Playwright

Article excerpt

For eight years, Tony Shalhoub enjoyed the success of a hit TV series, playing an obsessive-compulsive detective on "Monk."

Over the course of 125 episodes, though tied to the same weekly formula - a parade of neurotic quirks, leading to the solution of a crime -- he kept the character fresh, funny and entertaining.

Once the USA Network series ended in 2009, Shalhoub tried to put it in the rear-view mirror, returning to Broadway in a farce, "Lend Me a Tenor," and then a drama, "Golden Boy."

It's ironic, then, that in his current play, "Act One," it's in part by channeling his old character, Adrian Monk, that he's gotten a best-actor Tony nomination.

"He was like Monk in that he suffered from OCD," Shalhoub, 60, said in a recent phone interview about his portrayal of the famed - and strange - playwright and wit George S. Kaufman.

One of the first times we see Kaufman, the co-author of many classic comedies of the 1920s and '30s, including "The Man Who Came to Dinner" and "You Can't Take It With You," he gets a big laugh by rushing to the bathroom sink to scrub vigorously after shaking hands.

It's not a moment that Shalhoub, a committed actor, approaches as a winking reference to his TV character. To create his performance, he said, he read widely about Kaufman, as well as watching and listening to him on old film and audio clips.

"[His behavior] seems to have come from the way he was raised," said Shalhoub. "There was another child in the family who died, and somehow he felt responsible. That was drilled into his head, and the [obsessive actions] became a part of his makeup."

Since he almost always worked with a writing partner - "He was incredibly insecure," Shalhoub said -- it was a common belief that Kaufman supplied the jokes, while his collaborator did the play's structuring and the actual writing.

In fact, though, Kaufman was deeply knowledgeable about the art of playwriting, and in "Act One" he's presented as a mentor to the younger Moss Hart, with whom he created "Once in a Lifetime," Hart's first hit, and seven subsequent comedies. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.