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Katie Holmes: First Broadway Report

Fox News
By Roger Friedman

This is a report, not an official review, of Katie Holmes in the new Broadway revival of Arthur Miller’s "All My Sons." The opening night is Thursday, with reviews to follow.

But this production of "All My Sons" is getting a lot of attention, of course for all the wrong reasons. First of all, it’s "All My Sons" starring the amazing John Lithgow, the beloved Dianne Wiest, and the recently discovered Patrick Wilson, who turns out to be a real find in a dramatic role.

Katie Holmes has the fourth role, Ann, which is small although integral to the play. Because she’s married to Tom Cruise in real life (so to speak), and has worked little since their meeting in 2005, people want to know: Is she any good? Is this just a publicity gimmick? Was it worth seeing her in the press, sashaying back and forth every day to and from rehearsal in different outfits, often sporting toddler Suri as an ornament?

So the answer is: I saw "All My Sons" on Saturday night. It was a packed house. There were people outside trying to buy tickets. After the show, a line forms for Katie at the stage door. Maybe the fans are there for the other stars. They should be there for Christian Camargo, who makes a tremendous impact as George, brother to Katie’s character, who disrupts the fragile relationships of the main players. He’s that good.

They should also be there for Patrick Wilson, who’s the surprise of the night. He’s been in "The Full Monty" on Broadway, and "Little Children" in movies. But here he really carries the ball, and the show, in a way that is quite disarming. Good for him. Lithgow and Wiest are seasoned stars by now; they’re sensational in these roles, and probably think all the fuss around Katie is just amusing.

Before the Tom Cruise business, Katie had a solid acting success in the movie "Pieces of April." When I met her in April 2005, she told me she wanted to plays. Then she met Cruise, and all of that was over. Three and a half years later, she gets her chance, at last. She isn’t bad. She’s up against some real pro’s, and she holds her own. Like most movie and TV actors, her voice and projection need work. But she knows her lines, appears to understand the character, and does not embarrass herself at all. Given the pressures involved, that’s a lot.

Simon McBurney is a wonderful, respected British actor and theater director who’s in charge of this production. Ironically, he has a small part in the current film, "Body of Lies," as a computer hacker. At the movie’s premiere last week, no one from the film seemed to know who he was. What a shame. He gives "All My Sons" a very modern feel, using video and music to augment the action. He’s also allowed Katie to be sassy and forthright, and maybe a little pushy too. Sometimes it works, although every once in a while she came off shrill. That may soften in time.

The main thing is, Katie Holmes is in most of the play, and is working damn hard. She doesn’t need anyone to "save" her. Last week I received an email from the anti-Scientology group called Anonymous. They plan to protest the opening of "All My Sons" and make a scene on West 45th St. to prove some point. I can only advise them not to do this. They will come off as loony as those they’re against, and won’t help Katie. She, everyone in the Schoenfeld Theater, is doing serious work. Let’s celebrate their achievement, not annoy them (and the play across the street, "August: Osage County").

Miller wrote "All My Sons" in 1947, by the way. Sixty one years later, its themes are strangely contemporary: money, values, loyalty, patriotism, war. Lithgow could easily be playing Dick Cheney. It just shows again what a genius Arthur Miller — who also gave us Death of a Salesman and The Crucible, among others — was!