Kevin Kline Sets Broadway Return in 'Present Laughter'

Brent N. Clarke/FilmMagic
Kevin Kline

The two-time Tony winner will return to the Great White Way after a 10-year absence to star in the Noel Coward comedy.

Kevin Kline is returning to Broadway.

The two-time Tony Award winner will star in Noel Coward’s comedy Present Laughter, producer Jordan Roth announced Tuesday. Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel, the limited engagement will officially open April 5 at the St. James Theatre. 

Present Laughter centers on Garry Essendine, a self-obsessed actor caught up in a mid-life crisis. The play first premiered on Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre in 1946, following a wartime tour starring Coward himself. Kline, who was last on Broadway in a 2007 production of Cyrano de Bergerac, will join a list of accomplished actors who have played the role, including Albert Finney, Peter O’Toole and Ian McKellen. Victor Garber played the part in 2010, in the comedy's most recent Broadway revival.

“In our fame and social media-obsessed age, it feels especially apropos to do a sex farce about being a celebrity,” said von Stuelpnagel in a statement. “We all curate a kind of facade, a public face, but when the laughs and the parties end, I think we’re left with something darker and deeply human: ourselves, private, true. Present Laughter is bitingly witty, full of glamour and vivid personalities, but beneath that, there's something striking to me about the comedian stripped down to his most personal self, in this, Coward’s most personal play.”

Roth added, “If I didn't know that Noel Coward wrote this part for himself, I'd say he must have written it for Kevin Kline. Kevin's performances have been such an indelible part of my theatergoing 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.”

Kline won his first Tony in 1978, landing best featured actor in a musical for On the Twentieth Century. He followed in 1981 with a lead actor in a musical win for The Pirates of Penzance and was nominated for lead actor in a play in 2004 for his turn as Falstaff in Henry IV.

The Coward revival will mark the second Broadway directing assignment for von Stuelpnagel, who scored a Tony nomination in 2015 for Hand to God. Further casting on Present Laughter is to be announced.

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