AVO Playhouse Premieres GOODNIGHT, MR. BARRYMORE Today
If audiences today know the name of John Barrymore, it's most likely as the paternal grandfather of movie star Drew Barrymore. They may have a vague idea that he was a great actor from a family of great actors, but do they know he was also an infamous world-class drunk?
But there is much, much more to John Barrymore's story, and now a new one-man play starring veteran actor David Graham Richmond will capture the legendary movie star and matinee idol during the declining and heartbreaking years of his life as a great classical actor of his generation. He was a giant of the silver screen, a matinee idol, and scion of a troubled "Royal Family" of actors.
Written by Steven J. Conners, GOODNIGHT, MR. BARRYMORE will receive its world premiere today, October 30, 2013 at the AVO Playhouse in Vista, California.
GOODNIGHT, MR. BARRYMORE looks at the final unhappy years of John Barrymore's intriguing life and his heroic efforts to keep working in order to pay the IRS, his mounting debts, and alimony to three wives, despite a lethal addiction to alcohol. The talented David Graham Richmond brings the great Barrymore to life, from his landmark Shakespeare performances to his unsatisfying Hollywood career.
The play recounts the true story of an older John Barrymore, who returned to the stage late in life to regain his former glory. On the road in a mediocre play, Barrymore re-writes and re-stages it nightly, eventually making it a smash hit on Broadway. From the opening curtain to the final exit, the audience will share a heartbreaking and humorous evening of entertainment with a theatrical legend: John Barrymore, a man facing the final curtain with grace, style, good humor, and only a few regrets.
Performances will be held today, October 30--one day only--at 2:30pm and 7:30pm. The AVO Playhouse is located at 303 Main Street in Vista. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased by phone at 760-724-2110 or at www.vistixonline.com.
John Barrymore was born in 1882 into a multi-generation theatrical dynasty, the brother of Lionel Barrymore and Ethel Barrymore. He first gained fame as a handsome stage actor in light comedy, then high drama, and culminating in groundbreaking portrayals in Shakespeare and on Broadway in the 1920s.
Barrymore entered films around 1913 and quickly became a star of the silent film era. He delivered some of the most critically acclaimed performances in theatre and film history and was widely regarded as the screen's greatest performer during a movie career spanning 25 years as a leading man in more than 60 films. He worked opposite many of the screen's foremost leading ladies, including Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn, Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, and Carole Lombard.
In 1939, in order to pay alimony to three ex-wives, support his new wife, and pay his ever-mounting debts, Barrymore took the lead in a mediocre stage play, My Dear Children. He ad-libbed the lines each performance to make it a solid play and after a stand in Chicago, the show moved on to New York and got sensational reviews. Even after that Broadway hit, when he returned to Hollywood his remaining screen roles were broad caricatures of himself.
John Barrymore was a famous drinker and carouser, even throughout Prohibition, along with friends W. C. Fields, Anthony Quinn, John Carradine, Errol Flynn, Gene Fowler, and others. His chronic alcoholism led to recurring health problems and his eventual death in 1942 of cirrhosis of the liver and other complications. His last words were "Die? I should say not, dear fellow. No Barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him."