'Frost/Nixon' arrives as talk of the town


NEW YORK -- The next major Broadway opener, and it's a much-anticipated biggie, occurs Sunday when "Frost/Nixon" debuts at the Bernard Jacobs with Michael Sheen as British talk show host Sir David Frost in a heated cat-and-mouse television exchange with the deposed Richard Nixon, played by Frank Langella. This new play by Peter Morgan ("The Queen," "The Last King of Scotland") comes to town following its buzzed-about London success, where it initially opened in 2006 at the Donmar Warehouse, then transferred to the West End's Gielgud Theatre in a run that ended in February, just in time for Sheen to make it to the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood to be a presenter at the Oscars. (If the universe worked in a perfect way, Sheen would have been an Academy Awards nominee himself for his superb performance as Tony Blair in "Queen.") "Frost/Nixon" marks Sheen's Broadway debut; it's Langella's first Broadway outing since 2004's "Match," which brought him his fourth Tony nomination. Those noms have netted Langella two Tony prizes, for 1975's "Seascape" and 2004's "Fortune's Fool." He was also a nominee for 1978's "Dracula," the play that initially elevated him to bona fide star status on Broadway. And, for the record, "Frost/Nixon," despite its emphasis on the two real-life title characters, is more than a two-character play; it boasts a cast of 10 and is being directed on this side of the Atlantic by Michael Grandage, who also guided the London incarnation. ... Following the tradition that one stage door opens and another closes, Mel Brooks' "The Producers" finally ends its wildly successful six-year run Sunday at the St. James after 2,502 performances and 33 prevues. ... On Friday, "Radio Golf" begins prevues at the Cort, directed by Kenny Leon and toplining Harry Lennix and Tonya Pinkins. This is the 10th and final play in the late August Wilson's marathon look at black life in the 20th century. It premiered in 2005 at the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Conn.; its official opening date here is May 8. ... If you're going to be in the Los Angeles area Friday, let nothing keep you from making a beeline to the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater for a chance to see the 1945 stunner "Leave Her to Heaven," starring Gene Tierney ("Laura"), Cornel Wilde and Jeanne Crain. It's one of the rare movies considered film noir that is in color; what makes this screening a must is the fact that they'll be showing a three-strip Technicolor print. "Heaven's" color images, which won an Academy Award for cinematographer Leon Shamroy, are as vivid, lurid and stunning as any onscreen color you'll ever see. Plus, the movie is well worth seeing if only for the harrowing moment where Tierney silently sits in a boat, watching as her 14-year-old brother-in-law (Darryl Hickman) thrashes about in a lake and drowns. It's one of the most unforgettable movie sequences of the '40s. ... Back in this vicinity, Karen Akers begins a four-week run tonight at the Oak Room of the Algonquin in a cabaret salute to composer Jule Styne.