Nathan Lane and straight man Brian Dennehy break the ice with a blitz of interview zingers
Report: One week into rehearsals for Eugene O’Neill’s “The Iceman Cometh,” which opens April 21, Dennehy and Lane go for comic relief with their fans at the Goodman.
By Nancy Malitz
Brian Dennehy and Nathan Lane had serious messages to convey about “The Iceman Cometh,” which they’ve begun to rehearse at the Goodman Theatre. But in their “Artist Encounter” – an onstage discussion March 20 moderated by Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones and columnist Rick Kogan – the mood turned wicked when Dennehy and others played straight man to Lane’s punches.
Dennehy said he’s excited to finally have a chance to work with good buddy Lane on the O’Neill project. Lane: “Brian and I have known each other for 30 years. I answered his ad in The Village Voice.”
Dennehy said director Robert Falls is always pushing him with “Let’s do something we’re not sure we can do, something scary.” Lane: “Now that we’re here, I wouldn’t want to go around saying that a lot. There were days I would think, what have I done? Why didn’t I do ‘Harvey?’ ”
Moderator asked Lane if he was looking forward to doing a role (Hickey) that Dennehy himself had done twice. Lane: “Well sure. And to finally get it right!”
Moderator asked Lane about the risk to his reputation in taking on an iconic tragic character. Lane: “Yes, letting go of caring what people think. You don’t want to Google yourself. That way madness lies.”
Audience member asked about doing “Iceman” in New York. Lane, musing: “Well, we’d do the musical version.” (His arms conjure a marquee.) “Called ‘Hickey!’ ”
Dennehy talked about how he would have loved to live in Chicago, though he and his wife have spent much of their lives in Santa Fe. “She says Chicago is out of the question because of the shitty winters.” Then he went on a bit about Connecticut, where they have another home they use (mostly) in warmer weather.
Lane, after a double beat: “For a minute I thought ‘Shitty Winters’ was a play!”
- And now for something serious: Robert Falls talks about Dennehy, Lane and the genesis of the idea to do “The Iceman Cometh”
Photo captions and credits: Home page and top: Nathan Lane. Above: Brian Dennehy and Nathan Lane on the Goodman stage. (Courtesy Chicago Tribune) Below: Goodman Theatre in Chicago. (Jeff Goldberg)