PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: Golden Boy; Second Fiddle to Boxing

By Harry Haun
07 Dec 2012

Michael Aronov and Tony Shalhoub
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Tony Shalhoub, sporting a Gilbert Roland mustache as the Bonaparte patriarch, is another surprise entry to the cast, bringing a wealth of understated emotion to the part. "He reminds me of my own father — and he's kinda the father I aspire to be."

Like most of the cast, he was delighted to be in that number. "It is an extraordinary cast — a very cohesive group, led by a visionary director. We all just love and trust this material so deeply that it has been a joy to come in every day."

Shalhoub is coming in for some kudos by himself on Dec. 9 in a gala benefit at the Plaza Hotel. "New York Stage and Film is honoring me — I'm not sure what for — I guess for just surviving the business for 30 years. Friends of mine that I went to graduate school with now head New York Stage and Film asked me if I would be the honoree, and I said yes. A lot of other people must have turned it down this year."

Ned Eisenberg and Jonathan Hadary, who previously inhabited Odets' Awake and Sing! on Broadway, color up some subsidiary characters and get laughs doing it.

"He's a beautiful character," Hadary said of the Schopenhauer-quoting neighbor of the Bonapartes. "We were in rehearsal, and I said, 'Wait a minute, I really only know his name from lyrics. He's in Lorenz Hart's 'Zip.' He's in Ira Gershwin lyrics. It's an easy rhyme. He had become by then passé, but he enjoyed a resurgence of popularity between the wars."

Ordinarily a musical-theatre reliable, Danny Burstein also scores in the smallish role of Bonaparte's trainer, Tokio. "I love that character, and I saw the potential in it," he said. "Of course I'm ridiculously biased, but I think he's kinda the heart and soul of the show. I think everybody should shut up and listen to Tokio. He's the voice of reason — he really is — and he actually has Joe's best interests at heart. That's a rare thing in this show. Everybody seems to want something from him, but Tokio just wants him to be happy and be a complete person, not half a man.

"I guess that the massage scene with Joe at the end of Act Two is my favorite scene for myself, but, honestly, anytime that Tony Shalhoub or Anthony Crivello or Ned Eisenberg are on that stage — those really are my favorite times."

Daniel Jenkins, a Drama Desk nominee for Big and Big River, takes the cake for landing big in a bit role. In 20 words or less, he makes a devastating hole in the play.

Big parts or bit parts, Odets' son, Walt, embraced it all. "This is the best production of Golden Boy I've ever seen," he announced happily. "It's superb — with that terrific, detailed, wonderful cast sorta end to end. I'm very impressed — and very exhausted. You know, I've been seeing this show every night since previews started, and it is emotionally so exhausting. There's an intensity about it, and I feel drained every time I come out of there — and I'm not even doing the work of the actors."