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Theatre Review: Of Mice and Men
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Of Mice and Men Playbill Cover

Of Mice and Men
Written by John Steinbeck
Directed by Anna D. Shapiro
Starring James Franco, Chris O’Dowd, Jim Norton, Leighton Meester, Ron Cephas Jones, Jim Parrack, and Joel Marsh Garland.
Longacre Theatre
The Shubert Organization
Previews Begin: March 19, 2014
Opening Night: April 16, 2014

Two friends, George and Lennie, are traveling through California, looking for work at a farm or a ranch. Two friends who are just about as opposite as opposites can be, looking for that work more often than they care to. George is the smart, resourceful friend who takes care of Lennie, because well…Lennie ain’t quite right in the head. He has a hard time remembering stuff. He pets mice, pups, and ladies too hard. He can’t control his own strength sometimes. And George would have such a good life if he didn’t have to take care of Lennie, the “wine, women, and song” life…at least once a month. And George could settle in at a place, without Lennie getting in trouble and getting them run off.

What do you get when you mix Daniel Desario, Thomas-John, Blair Waldorf, Reverend Lowdown, Camel, Hoyt Fortenberry, and O’Neill? The cast of Of Mice and Men – PULLING IT OFF!!!

At first, you can’t shake the idea that it’s James Franco (George) playing a character. You almost expect to hear him say, “You can’t have my Milky Way! It’s my special food, I like it.” Ten minutes later you are immersed in 1930s ranch life. The sets are so authentic. The dilapidated bunkhouse, Crooks’ room, and the land 1/4 mile off from the ranch that begins and ends the play, have such attention to detail, the audience itself feels poor and disheveled.

Chris O’Dowd WAS Lennie from his first attempt at hiding the dead mouse from George, to his tragic end. He was big. He was clumsy. He was loud. He was Lennie. Although mainly known for her lead part in the now defunct CW show “Gossip Girl” and not for Broadway, Leighton Meester was perfectly cast as the flighty, shallow, man-chasing, Curley’s wife. Ron Cephas Jones as Crooks and Jim Norton as Candy, walked right out of the novel to greet us all. And after those first ten minutes of transforming from James Franco to George, Franco was able to have us feel how torn up he was between loving and hating Lennie for his current quality of life.

Previews of Broadway shows allow for forgivable mistakes, making small changes to script and direction, and to allow the performers to internalize their characters, before the opening night. Of Mice and Men could have just opened. It was THAT good.

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