He has incredible credentials: Juilliard, the White House, an Emmy, and countless awards.
Bradley Whitford, who understands the serious side of the business, takes a 180 to explore his natural comedic talent in the Tony Award-winning comedy, Art. It runs at The Pasadena Playhouse from Jan. 24 to Feb. 19.
Set in Paris, the play is based on three long-time friends’ interaction when one spends a small fortune on a controversial white painting. To say there are sparks is putting it mildly.
Written by Yasmina Reza (God of Carnage) and directed by David Lee (Wings, Frasier, Cheers), Art’s 1998 Broadway production was the recipient of the Tony and the New York Drama Critic’s Circle Award for Best Play. It also won the Laurence Olivier and Moliere Awards.
In 1994, the show premiered at Comedie des Champs-Elysees in Paris. Two years later, it was translated into English by Christopher Hampton in London’s West End and starred Albert Finney. It opened on Broadway in 1998 with Alan Alda, Victor Garber, and Alfred Molina.
When Whitford (Josh Lyman, Deputy White House Chief of Staff, The West Wing) was asked to be a part of this, he was thrilled. “I said yes, yes, yes. I love the writer’s work and saw God of Carnage four times, which is not like me. The play was smart and hilarious.”
Co-stars Michael O’Keefe (a West Wing colleague), Roger Bart, and Whitford are having some behind-the-scenes belly laughs: “My character thinks he is a collector!”
This Madison, Wis., native would never spend an exorbitant amount on a painting. “My character and I share exasperation when it comes to modern art. It’s about originality. The highest aesthetic is a façade and I find the monetization of art to be really obscene. It’s a kind of sophistication that cuts through the crap. I have my kid’s art on my walls, some travel treasures, and things that have special meaning to me.”
With a lifelong friendship with TV/film writer Aaron Sorkin and a Master’s Degree from Juilliard, we had to ask if we’d be seeing him in Sorkin’s new HBO show. “Who knows? I’d do his yard work! And I’d do it for free!”
Although he loves working in TV/film, he says, “They’re shot out of sequence. You only tell a story once. Theater is pure. You tell the story live eight times a week, in sequence.”
“I first became aware of Bradley’s formidable talents as a serious actor on The West Wing,” says director David Lee. “I later discovered that he also knows his way around comedy on Broadway.”
Art runs Jan. 24—Feb. 19 at The Pasadena Playhouse. For tickets, visit www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org or call (626) 356-7529.