Two-time Tony winner Kevin Kline (A Fish Called Wanda, In And Out) will return to Broadway after a decade-long absence to star in Present Laughter, the Noël Coward comedy that will open a limited engagement April 5 at the St. James Theatre. That’s where Kline won his first Best Featured Actor in a Musical Tony, in 1978 for On the Twentieth Century. In 1981 he won Best Actor in a Musical for The Pirates of Penzance.
Producer Jordan Roth, who owns the St. James and four more theaters in the Jujamcyn group, announced the casting of the revival; the play originally appeared on Broadway in 1946; a Broadway revival starring George C. Scott introduced a young Nathan Lane. It follows a self-obsessed actor in the midst of a midlife crisis. Freely indulging his considerable appetite for wine, women and sleeping late, the theater’s favorite leading man suddenly finds himself caught between fawning ingénues, crazed playwrights, secret trysts and unexpected twists. Albert Finney, Peter O’Toole and Ian McKellen have played the role in the past. Moritz von Stuelpnagel (Hand To God) is directing.
“If I didn’t know that Noël Coward wrote this part for himself, I’d say he must have written it for Kevin Kline,” Roth said. “Kevin’s performances have been such an indelible part of my theater-going and film-watching lifetime, as I know they have been for all of us. Being part of his return to Broadway and to the St. James is about as good as it gets.”