Here’s a tease:
Anyone who knows actor Victor Garber would not characterize him as an immense — but ultimately lovable — narcissist like Garry Essendine, the aging matinee idol at the vortex of No√´l Coward’s Present Laughter. Over a leisurely breakfast, Garber never fails to mention the other actors in Roundabout’s 2010 revival of the play on Broadway, almost all of whom performed in the acclaimed production at Boston’s Huntington Theatre Company in 2007. Of Present Laughter‘s director, Nicholas Martin, Garber’s voice grows louder and his praise becomes lavish. “He’s more fun than anyone I know,” he says, most sincerely. Garber’s enthusiasm makes you wish you were sitting in the rehearsal room — or standing on line at the theatre, a pair of center-orchestra seats in hand.
Present Laughter marks Garber’s 15th Broadway show — his first since creating the role of Serge in Yasmina Reza’s award-winning comedy Art in 1998. Though a four-time Tony nominee and veteran of hit productions (Arcadia, Damn Yankees, Lend Me a Tenor, Noises Off, Sweeney Todd, Deathtrap), a solid decade of TV and film work — from his Emmy-nominated role as Jack Bristow on ABC’s Alias to portraying George Moscone in the Oscar-winning Milk — conspired to keep him on the West Coast. Still, he’s kept his hand in the New York City theatre scene, appearing in the Encores! revivals of Of Thee I Sing and Follies, for example. Returning to Broadway at Roundabout’s American Airlines Theatre has him jazzed, no question about it. But returning to Broadway in a No√´l Coward play — that, he says, has him ecstatic.
Rarely are actors given the chance to revisit roles or productions. Still, why Present Laughter, why Roundabout, and why now?
When we did the play for four weeks at the Huntington, it was one of the best experiences any of us ever had in our lives. It’s a great role for me; it’s also a great production. And it’s a great cast, too, and January will be a wonderful time for Roundabout audiences to come in and simply have a fun, lovely, joyous evening. So that, truly, is the motivation.