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The Girl Next Door


Katie Holmes on Broadway:
Toledo native enjoys role in drama ‘All My Sons’

The Toledo Blade
By Kirk Baird

Katie Holmes had nothing to lose by appearing on Broadway in the drama "All My Sons."

And, most likely, she had nothing to prove, either.

Or did she?

A successful Hollywood actress whose star shone intensely brighter by virtue of her spouse, Tom Cruise, Holmes certainly didn’t need to try her hand at Broadway. Her film and TV career is doing just fine, thank you very much.

But the allure of the New York stage has proven irresistible to many big-name actors such as Elizabeth Taylor, Ethan Hawke, Julia Roberts, Brooke Shields, Denzel Washington, Jennifer Garner, Nicole Kidman, Daniel Radcliffe, and Madonna. All of them lived through their stage experiences to be filmed another day, but few have scratched that Broadway itch again.

Holmes, however, is different. She’s enjoying her stint on stage, and is already contemplating her next roles on film as well as on stage, she recently told The Blade in a telephone interview.

“I’m reading different movie scripts and different plays. I’m very open to both,” Holmes said shortly after a Tuesday night stage performance. “It’s been wonderful to take on this challenge and discover that I really, really like being on stage. Hopefully, I’ll do that and do more movies. I kind of go script by script; I don’t have this five-year plan. You really just have to do what looks challenging and is right for you at that time in your life.”

The actress said she’s had her eye on Broadway for nearly a decade.

“I’ve always wanted to do Broadway. I started taking meetings on different plays and with different directors, I think it was probably about eight years ago. I was looking for plays during my hiatus during "Dawson’s Creek;" it was always something I kept my eye on and wanted to do. I am very excited about it. I’m just coming from the theater right now and I’m having a really wonderful time. I love working with these actors.”

The time is right
It took a revived production of Arthur Miller’s "All My Sons" by Simon McBurney, starring John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest, Patrick Wilson, and Christian Camargo, to convince the Toledo native, who turns 30 this month, the time was right for her Broadway debut.

“The reason I chose to do this is because I’m a fan of Simon McBurney, who’s a wonderful director, and Arthur Miller, he was a classic storyteller,” Holmes said. “To have this opportunity to perform under Simon’s direction, and with this play that is quite timeless, really interested me. And to work opposite Dianne, and John, and Patrick, and Christian and everyone, it’s been very challenging and very rewarding. That’s what I look for when I go after material. That’s all you can do.”

Holmes, who graduated from the all-girls Notre Dame Academy, received a small role in Ang Lee’s indie drama "The Ice Storm" in 1997, but her big break came a year later on The WB teen drama "Dawson’s Creek" as the love-torn Joey Porter. She followed that success with roles in "Go" and "Wonder Boys," the former of which earned her an MTV Movie Award in 1999 as Best Breakthrough Female Performance.

Holmes was becoming a recognizable face in Hollywood, a girl-next-door actress with a breadth of talent that enabled her to jump from comedy ("Thank You For Smoking," "Mad Money"), drama ("Phone Booth"), and blockbuster ("Batman Begins"). Then there’s the occasional odd acting choice, too, such as 2003’s "The Singing Detective," in which she lip-synced and danced, that makes it impossible to accuse Holmes of settling into a career rut.

Marquee talent
Yet with all of her experience, Broadway presented a fresh set of challenges.

“For preparation for this experience on Broadway, I worked a lot on my voice and really strengthening that and to be at a level which was similar to everyone else’s in the cast,” Holmes said. “I certainly didn’t want to sound very weak next to them. We’re such a team and it’s an important story that we’re telling. I worked really hard on strengthening my voice over the summertime before we even started the rehearsal. Then in the rehearsal process we worked a lot on our bodies, communication with our bodies, and just getting comfortable on the stage. That’s what was the most different for me, from working in front of a camera to stage.”

"All My Son"  is the true story of a businessman, Joe Keller (Lithgow), whose success was built by knowingly selling the government defective airplane parts during World War II. Joe and his wife Kate (Wiest) lost one son in the war, and their surviving son Chris (Wilson) has fallen in love with his brother’s fiancee, Ann Deever (Holmes), and the two plan to marry. When the couple comes home to tell his parents their news, confrontations erupt and buried family secrets bubble to the surface.

When the production debuted Oct. 16, audiences predictably turned out to see a stage production featuring marquee talent; however, critics were mixed, especially about Holmes’ performance.

“This Ann is straight from the school of Erinyes (those avenging furies from Greek mythology), and I didn’t believe for a second that she really loved the honorable, naive Chris,” wrote New York Times critic Ben Brantley.

Daily News critic Joe Dziemianowicz opined that Holmes “makes a fine Broadway debut. Her rather grand speech pattern takes getting used to but she seems comfortable and adds a fitting glint of glamour.”

Holmes said she isn’t fazed by criticism of her work.

“I don’t read reviews, especially when I’m continuing to work on something. It’s my job to go in and do the best I can every night for a different audience, and anything that can make me think differently or put my attention on something else takes away from the storytelling, so I don’t even worry about that.

“I’ve also learned in my time in this business that you can’t please everybody, and you just have to do the best you can and really appreciate every opportunity. That’s what I’ve been doing with this play. These other actors and this director are so talented, and I’m really just loving every minute on stage with them. Also the privilege of performing in front of an audience is quite beautiful, so I’m really enjoying that.”

Supportive couple
The actress is scheduled to be part of "All My Sons" through its limited Jan. 11 engagement. And what comes after that, as Holmes said, she’s not certain. The same could be said of Cruise, whose almost unrecognizable scene-stealing appearance in the comedy "Tropic Thunder" as a crazed studio chief sparked speculation that the blockbuster action and drama star might reinvent himself as a comic actor.

No matter what career direction Holmes and Cruise take, the couple remains supportive of each other and is more than willing to offer advice.

“We are very much like most couples and we definitely bounce ideas off of each other,” she said. “He’s incredibly supportive and I’m really appreciative of him being here and being so supportive of this play. I also love going with him on his films and supporting him through that. We definitely talk about everything together. That’s what partners do.