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Review Roundup: Gore Vidal's THE BEST MAN is Back on Broadway - All the Reviews!

Gore Vidal's THE BEST MAN began previews on Tuesday, March 6th, 2012 and opened tonight, Sunday, April 1st, 2012 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. Gore Vidal's THE BEST MAN is now running on Broadway with James Earl Jones, John Larroquette, Candice Bergen, Eric McCormack, Kerry Butler, Jefferson Mays, Michael McKean and Angela Lansbury.

The design team includes scenic designer Derek McLane, lighting designer Kenneth Posner, Ann Roth, sound designer John Gromada and projection designer Peter Nigrini.

A play about power, ambition, political secrets, ruthlessness and the race for the presidency, Gore Vidal's THE BEST MAN is set at the national convention where two candidates are vying for their party's nomination during the primary season. It's an inside look at the dirt-digging, double-dealing, triple-crossing chicanery of presidential electioneering. This marks the first major revival of Gore Vidal's THE BEST MAN since it received a Tony Award nomination and won the Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award in 2000.

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Charles Isherwood, The New York Times: By the time the curtain came down on this starry but sluggish production, and a nominee had been formally announced, I did feel as if I’d endured a particularly fractious and constipated evening at a political convention. Need I add that acquiring this experience has never been one of my great ambitions? ... I’m not sure Mr. Jones’s presence can be classified as color-blind casting.But no matter: this consummate actor digs into his role with a relish you can surely sense from the back row of the balcony. He all but swamps the stage with Hockstader’s hearty bonhomie and zest for the machinations of backroom deal making, but also succeeds in inflecting his character — in the last rounds of a losing battle with cancer — with a moving sense of his mortality. He also earns robust laughs with some of Mr. Vidal’s piercingly funny lines collapsing the distance between the politics of mid-20th-century America and today.

Mark Kennedy, Associated Press: You'll be clapping a lot during the 2 1/2-hour show — mainly just to welcome an embarrassment of riches on stage: James Earl Jones. Angela Lansbury. John Larroquette. Candice Bergen. Eric McCormack. Michael McKean and Kerry Butler. It's like a greatest hits album on stage. Director Michael Wilson gives each a moment to shine and excitingly paces the play like a thriller.

Elysa Gardner, USA Today: As drama, The Best Man is both soapy and self-righteous; fortunately, director Michael Wilson has assembled a cast of seasoned pros who manage a winningly dry, light touch. John Larroquette brings a mix of gravitas and ruefulness to Russell, whose only apparent shortcoming is trouble remaining faithful to his wife. ... But the biggest, warmest laughs are provided by another venerable octogenarian: James Earl Jones, who clearly has a field day as jocular former president Artie Hockstader. Though a fundamentally decent fellow, Hockstader has no problem enjoying some of the tawdrier elements of the political game as a spectator. Thanks to the sterling company here, neither will you. 

David Rooney, Reuters/Hollywood Reporter: It may not have the satirical sting it no doubt carried back in 1960, but Gore Vidal’s The Best Man still has plenty of bite even in our more jaded age, when chronic moral affront has so polluted the national political landscape that it’s seemingly beyond clean-up. An ideally timed antidote to a mercurial presidential primary race running low on levity, Michael Wilson’s Broadway revival is shrewdly cast, with a starry ensemble that lands every laugh while bringing sly shadings to their characters... The Bottom Line - A top-notch cast breathes fresh life into this entertaining round of political marksmanship by a keen-eyed observer whose experience in the D.C. swamp informs every line.

Linda Winer, Newsday: The three-act structure of Vidal's 1960 campaign melodrama is a bit creaky. But everything else about this joyfully shrewd star-encrusted revival -- including, for starters, the untouchable James Earl Jones and Angela Lansbury, plus a deeply touching Candice Bergen and an astonishing John Larroquette -- feels as pertinent and as boldly impertinent as the daily machinations in our latest mud-fight to the White House.

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