The new Broadway production of Arthur Miller's Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece DEATH OF A SALESMAN directed by eight-time Tony Award® winner Mike Nichols and starring Academy Award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman as Willy Loman, Obie Award winner Linda Emond as Linda Loman and Andrew Garfield, making his Broadway debut as Biff Loman opened tonight Thursday, March 15, 2012 at the Barrymore Theatre, where it will play a strictly limited 16-week engagement.
DEATH OF A SALESMAN also features Finn Wittrock as Happy, Fran Kranz as Bernard, Bill Camp as Charley, John Glover as Ben, Glenn Fleshler as Stanley, and Stephanie Janssen as Miss Forsythe.
The production features a recreation of the original ground-breaking and Tony Award-winning scenic design by Jo Mielziner, with costume design by Academy Award winner and five-time Tony Award nominee Ann Roth, lighting by five-time Tony Award-winner Brian MacDevitt and sound design by Tony Award-winner Scott Lehrer.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Robert Feldberg, The Record: "Under the direction of Mike Nichols, the production overall has an uneven, uninflected quality, without the dramatic solidity or shadings of personality that make a work spring to vivid life. Expectations are sky high when a superb actor like Hoffman takes on a storied role like Willy Loman, the traveling salesman whose delusional pursuit of the American Dream has become a symbol of middle-class tragedy. So, even though Hoffman is never less than capable, and has several impressive scenes – just watch him crumble as Willy bounces into his boss's office seeking a favor, only to discover he's being fired – the portrayal is ultimately disappointing."
Michael Sommers, New Jersey Newsroom: "You cannot back travel in time to witness a celebrated stage production of yesteryear, but director Mike Nichols offers the next best thing to it in his wonderfully reverential revival of 'Death of a Salesman.' ... Rather than devising his own concept, Nichols gracefully employs designer Jo Mielziner's famous original setting and composer Alex North's original score to re-create the same visuals and musical moods that Broadway audiences experienced in 1949. In choosing 44-year-old Philip Seymour Hoffman to portray Willy Loman, Nichols directs an actor who easily incarnates the man's age in the drama's present day, when Willy is in his sputtering 60s, and also in the flashbacks to his prime 20 years earlier."
Roma Torre, NY1: "It's the fifth Broadway production of the landmark play. But this time Mike Nichols went back to the drawing board with some of the original 1949 designs -- a brilliant move that somehow breathes new life into the 63-year-old drama. And while I've seen all of the Broadway revivals, with this inspired production it's as if seeing the play for the first time."
Scott Brown, Vulture: "In Mike Nichols's thunderous new production of Arthur Miller's Salesman (really a meticulous reproduction of the 1949 original) - a suite of perfectly staged funeral games, down to the smallest role - the main attraction is this titanic grapple between American gods, embodied by two actors who know a parable when they see one and know how big a performance it calls for (i.e., oversize). ... The play belongs to Garfield and Hoffman, as it must. Both know how to weaponize language. (Garfield, especially, has used his Brit's ear for High Brooklynese to great declamatory advantage: He treats Miller like Shakespeare, finding the rhythms, then secreting them inside a natural reading.) And both are performers of demon strength who are always on the razor's edge of succumbing to their own "technique," but, miraculously, don't. Hoffman's habits as an actor are, of course, better known, and may register occasionally as habits; sometimes too good a fit can be as distracting as a bad one. This is, of course, the great challenge of Willy: to play a small man larger than life. Hoffman meets that challenge fiercely, dressed to perfect disadvantage."