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Posts Tagged ‘Roundabout Theatre Company’

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When I heard yesterday that actor Jerry Stiller died, I didn’t immediately think of his Emmy winning performance on Seinfeld, I went to Broadway and Chekhov. It was 1997 and my first trip to New York City and seeing my first Broadway play. And it was magical.

I don’t have anything to add to the many obituaries on Stiller, but as a way to celebrate his life in theater, I’ve scanned the Playbill from his performance as one of the actors in Three Sisters.  

Stiller was joined by an incredible cast that included  Robert Bogue, Billy Crudup, Calista Flockhart, Paul Giamatti, David Marshall Grant, Ben Hammer, Amy Irving, Betty Miller, Eric Stoltz, David Strathairn, Lili Taylor, Justin Theroux, and Jeanne Tripplehorn.

Never before or since have I seen more talented people on stage in the same play. And since it was a matinee performance they did a Q&A with some of the actors afterwards and I snuck in a question.

It was a weekend of not only connecting with actors, and the writings of the great Russian playwright, the crew, the Roundabout Theatre Company, and a Times Square building that was built in 1895, but it was a whirlwind weekend of being fully alive.

We celebrated my wife’s birthday weekend and Valentine’s Day by with a horse carriage ride through central park, ate at an Italian restaurant, went to a concert at Carnegie Hall, made a stop at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, did a boat tour with glorious views of the Stature of Liberty and the Twin Towers, toured Ellis Island and went to the top of the Empire State Building and somehow found time to sleep at Waldorf Astoria.

I was 36-years-old and had dreamed of a trip like that for probably 10 or 15 years. I was a long way from my youth of playing football barefoot on a dead-end street in Central Florida.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen or read Three Sisters, but I remember it as a play about spiritual longings for hope the the midst of despair. A time when all of the mysteries of life will disappear. At the end of the play Irina is comforted by her older sister who says, “It seems as if a little while more we shall know why we live, why we suffer … If we only knew, if we only knew.”

And that is why Chekhov’s writings from the late 1800s could resonate on Broadway in 1997, today, or a hundred years from now.

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P.S. It appears that Stiller’s 1997 performance in Three Sisters was his last stage play performance and the same year he won an Emmy for his role on Seinfeld. 

Scott W. Smith

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