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Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman in "A Steady Rain" at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
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Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman in "A Steady Rain" at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre

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A Steady Rain
(A Steady Rain Website)

By Keith Huff
Directed by John Crowley

Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman

Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
236 West 45th Street

Scenic and Costume Design: Scott Pask
Lighting Design: Hugh Vanstone
Original Music and Sound Design: Mark Bennett
Production Management: Aurora Productions
Production Stage Manager: Michael J. Passaro
Press Representative: The Hartman Group
Advertising: SPOTCO
Company Manager: Lisa M. Poyer

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 1, 2009

Daniel Craig (aka 007 James Bond) and Hugh Jackman (aka The Boy from Oz and Wolverine) are now appearing in the intermission-less A Steady Rain, sitting on stools under interrogation lamps, on the Schoenfeld Theatre’s bare stage. Mr. Craig, as Joey, and Mr. Jackman, as Denny, two longtime buddies and Chicago cops, who drive around town finding and stopping crime, unpeel their psyches in monologues toward the audience, and dialogues with each other, that expose their raw emotions in fast-paced edge. Keith Huff created this work in 2007 for Chicago Dramatists, before it played in Chicago with local actors. For Broadway, John Crowley, Director, and the show’s Producers cast two hugely popular film-television-theatre stars to fill the house in the depths of the current recession. I honestly wish they had kept the “local actor” concept. It would have been refreshing to focus on the drama, as Mr. Huff’s play has a brilliantly unfolding story line. Instead, we were apparently supposed to be seduced by the magnetic charisma and the quintessentially gym-fit physiques of Mr. Craig and Mr. Jackman, while fantasizing about their off-stage film characters, a not so subliminal distraction.

Had Mr. Craig and Mr. Jackman mastered convincing Chicago Blue-Collar accents and affects, I would have found the storyline more convincing. Yet, they both seemed somewhat uncomfortable, almost as if they were leading an actors’ workshop, modeling technique, without really becoming Denny and Joey. Denny is an Italian-American married father, with an appetite for the night ladies he’s supposed to police. Denny is filled with bravado, frustration, and sexist behavior toward his offstage wife. Joey is unmarried, alcoholic, lonely, and surprisingly sentimental. They spar with each other, and they spar with themselves, as they publicly and psychologically unmask and examine the events and choices that evolved in “the not-too-distant past”. There are harrowing verbal sequences, about hookers, child predators, gun shots, adultery, betrayal, murder, lying, cheating, drugs, revenge, and redemption. Some of these sequences relate to the offstage thugs and their victims, and some of these sequences relate to Denny and Joey, themselves. Thus, the interrogation lamps.

At times, the characters are riveted to their stools, glaring at whichever one is in his monologue. At other times one or both characters may stalk the stage, pounce on one another’s spoken memory, speak in a whisper, or seem on the verge of explosion. There’s edge here, but not seamlessly gripping, like Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow. Perhaps, again, the star power overwhelmed the play’s theatrical potential, or maybe these stars should have canceled a few months of gym training, as I’ve never seen city cops so sexy and stunning. As for the offstage characters, I could make them to be as I imagined, and they fully embodied their shifting roles. Scott Pask deserves kudos for rear stage designs, such as alley-ways and eerie woods, and Mark Bennett’s surreal musical interludes add dread and drama. John Crowley directed with tight timing, but words often disappeared in the muffled stage direction. I’d like to see this play again, one day, with characters who embody the grit and grain of Chicago cops.

Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman
in "A Steady Rain"
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

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