Vince Gilligan and his wife Holly Rice traveled far and wide to see Bryan Cranston on stage. They saw him tackle both Network and All the on Broadway, traveled to London for more Networkand made the trip to Westwood when he starred in The God of Hell. This latest production, staged at the Geffen Playhouse in 2005, even came before Gilligan and Cranston teamed up on the iconic series breaking Bad.
“We go all the way to watch Bryan play because there’s something special about seeing him perform live,” Gilligan said. The Hollywood Reporter while standing next to Rice in the Geffen Hall Thursday night. The couple were back in the building (with seats in the fifth row) to watch the opening night production of sail power. “I’m used to seeing him on set re-do a scene over and over again, but to have the chance to see him alongside these wonderful actors for almost two hours straight is amazing. I mean , how the hell do they remember all those lines?”
It’s a fair question and one perhaps shared by the sold-out crowd inside the Gil Cates Theater, a sea of attendees that included notable names James Franco, Andy Garcia, Katie Couric, Elisabeth Shue, Davis Guggenheim, Tyne Daly and Annie Potts, among others. Especially given the sensitive subject matter of the piece.
sail power – written by Paul Grellong, directed by Weyni Mengesha and produced by Daryl Roth – stars Cranston alongside Amy Brenneman, Seth Numrich, Brandon Scott, Tedra Millan, Donna Simone Johnson and Hugo Armstrong. The story takes aim at prominent Harvard professor Charles Nichols (Cranston) who stirs the pot by inviting an incendiary white nationalist to speak at his revered annual symposium. The students revolt as the Dean (Brenneman) attempts to deal with the situation as current and former students (Numrich, Scott, and Millan) are caught in the storm.
“I loved it,” Gilligan offered of her response. “Boy, it’s a very difficult piece and it’s a lot of food for thought that I’m still digesting. It’s got me guessing at every turn and I haven’t seen many of those dots. “plot to come. I was just impressed with the acting – all the actors are wonderful. I’m biased towards Bryan – I’m in the tank for him – but he never fails to surprise me. He’s so wonderful. Whenever I think I’m used to seeing the amazing performances he gives, he always surprises me.
Rice, who happens to be a member of Geffen’s board of directors, was also impressed while cheering at the sight of seeing so many bodies in the building for an in-person production on a festive opening night, sponsored by City National Bank, UCLA Health and STK, host of the after-party. “It means a lot to us because we’ve all been looking forward to tonight seeing a full stage and a full audience,” Rice explained. “The Geffen really are a family, so it’s nice to be together again. Also, I was glad that [Bryan and the cast] brought the director and screenwriter to the stage.
Rice was referring to the curtain call when, after taking a final bow, Cranston addressed the audience. “Thank you for coming tonight. We really appreciate [having] a live audience,” he said. “It was a great experience for all of us. I just wanted to say thank you to the rest of the cast and our entire crew. I would love to be able to bring our director and our screenwriter on stage.
The audience erupted with huge applause and Grellong and Mengesha walked to center stage. Cranston joked that he would have presented them with flowers he intended to buy earlier in the day, but didn’t. Instead, he offered more gratitude: “Thank you so much for supporting Live Theater.”
While he may have forgotten the flowers, he didn’t forget any lines and for that, Gilligan said he deserved plenty of pats on the back. “I get nervous for him. I was thinking about it while we were having a drink in the lobby. What is he going through? Who are all the actors going through behind the scenes? Are they nervous as hell? I was nervous for them. I could imagine myself going out and forgetting about everything. That’s why I will never do that. Nobody asks me, by the way.
sail power is on display until March 20.