EXCLUSIVE: In February, Frank Langella will pick up the Jason Robards Award for Excellence in Theatre, and not long after, if things proceed according to plan, he will be donning lingerie and dresses for his debut as the most narcissistic mother since Gypsy‘s Momma Rose in Oh Dad, Poor Dad Mamma’s Hung You in the Closet and I’m Feelin’ So Sad.
The revival of the 1962 play that put playwright Arthur Kopit on the map should begin rehearsals in July at the La Jolla Playhouse. Sights are set on Broadway, where the role was payed by Hermione Gingold opposite a very young Sam Waterston and a very sexy Barbara Harris (the only one of the trio to survive the transfer in 1967 to film, which starred Rosalind Russell and Robert Morse). No Lady Bracknell for Langella, but something much wilder, a role to sink his teeth into.
The honors masculine and feminine should cap another remarkable year for an actor who deserves the mantle of thespian royalty. In June he won his fourth Tony Award in the title role of The Father, a demanding tour-de-force that required him to essay the stages of dementia. He anchored two films with his suave gravitas — as Viggo Mortensen’s determined father-in-law in Captain Fantastic, and as Lyndon Johnson’s discarded mentor Senator Richard Russell in All the Way, opposite Bryan Cranston as the accidental President. He also returned to The Americans, the celebrated FX series in which he plays the typically imperturbable Russian spymaster Gabriel.
The Robards Award is the centerpiece of the Roundabout Theatre Company’s annual gala and the winner is fitting, for Langella has spent a good portion of his stage career in the Roundabout circle. The award is to be presented February 27 by the nonprofit company’s longtime artistic director Todd Haimes — at no less a signifier of accomplishment than the grand ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria.