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Drama Desk Panel and Reception
Itís a Hard Act to Follow

(Drama Desk Website)
Isa Goldberg, Drama Desk President and Robert R. Blume,
Producers, Drama Desk Awards
Les Schecter, Drama Desk Press and Public Relations

(Sardiís Website)

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 30, 2012

Moderator: Elysa Gardner (USA Today)
Michael McKean: (Gore Vidalís The Best Man)
Lynne Meadow: (Wit)
Cynthia Nixon: (Wit)
Hunter Parrish: (Godspell)
Blair Underwood: (A Streetcar Named Desire)

Todayís delightful panel, held at Sardiís, was centered on the topic of recreating iconic roles onstage, and the related challenges to actors and directors. Elysa Gardner, a dynamic speaker and moderator, who writes for USA Today, drew out the panel guests, all of whom are renowned stage, screen, and small screen artists. Blair Underwood, appearing in Streetcar Named Desire, was asked about recreating Marlon Brandoís role of Stanley Kowalski, now called only Stanley, in the current production. Mr. Underwood gave an impassioned description of his admiration for Brando, and his unique interpretation of the role.

Lynne Meadow, Artistic Director of Manhattan Theatre Club, and Cynthia Nixon both discussed their partnership in recreating the role of Vivian Bearing, a character in her last weeks of terminal illness. Ms. Nixon had recalled the earlier stage production, with Kathleen Chalfant, which she admired, but she was able to put her own identity on the role with extreme dedication and reverence to the play. Ms. Nixonís mother was in the room, and Ms. Nixon also spoke of the challenge of going bald for this role, about a patient in treatment. Ms. Meadow shared some desires for future productions at MTC, such as Othello. Hunter Parrish spoke about his role as Jesus in Godspell, and his desire to make it an au courant role. Michael McKean, now appearing in Gore Vidalís The Best Man, spoke about following Harvey Fierstein in Hairspray, quite a feat. Several panelists related hilarious tales about previous stage experiences, coming into roles made known by others and working to stylize them with their own personalities, while maintaining relevance and reverence to the current production.

William and Lillian Wolf
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Sardi's Panel:
Blair Underwood, Michael McKean,
Elysa Gardner, Cynthia Nixon,
Hunter Parrish, Lynne Meadow
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at