By Peter Morgan
British talk-show host David Frost has become a lowbrow laughing-stock. Richard M. Nixon has just resigned the United States presidency in total disgrace. Go behind the scenes and see what really happened. A cast of ten will enthrall audiences as they play out the twists and turns it took to get these interviews made. Maine premiere!
"Structured as a prize fight between two starkly ambitious men in professional crisis, Frost/Nixon makes it clear that the competitor who controls the camera reaps the spoils." - NY Times
"…a thoroughly modern Shakespearean tragedy…Peter Morgan has given us a behind the scenes look at a well-publicized event, and used his imagination to create a riveting entertainment..." - Curtain Up
"…ripe entertainment…The cheerily oblivious limey lightweight and the brooding, mortally wounded political animal: Austin Powers vs. Macbeth." - Washington Post
'Frost/Nixon' premiere excels
Maine Sunday Telegram by April Boyle/1/2009 (Excerpts)
Halloween eve marked the official Maine premiere of Peter Morgan's "Frost/Nixon," and the Good Theater has done a spectacular job bringing to life one of our country's most controversial former presidents.
Tony Reilly leads the 10-member cast as Nixon, and the resemblance is eerie. Reilly doesn't necessarily look like Nixon physically. But he clearly studied Nixon for this role, mastering his voice, speech pattern, ticks, quirks, gestures, facial expressions and mannerisms. It's hard not to see Nixon when you watch Reilly perform.
He particularly shines when his inebriated character muses about life in a late-night call to Frost and at the end when Nixon breaks down and confesses his wrongdoing in the Watergate scandal. Reilly's impassioned performance is captivating.
Jon Robert Stafford co-stars as Frost, with a full British accent and playboy-like flair. He also brings depth to his character, showing his insecurities, triumphs and underlying compassion and respect.
The exceptional cast includes Paul Haley (John Birt/Ollie), Brent Askari (Bob Zelnick/studio manager), Craig Bowman (Jim Reston), Michael Kimball (Jack Brennan), Seth Berner (Manolo Sanchez/technician), Bob McCormack (Swifty Lazaar/Mike Wallace, studio manager), April Singley (Caroline Cushing/makeup lady) and Janis Greim (Evonne Goolagong/stewardess/waitress).
Good Theater hits the mark with this artfully simple rendition. It's a moving and riveting retelling that stirs memories and humanizes the historic personages.
Spot on: Good Theater’s top-notch Frost/Nixon
The Portland Phoenix by Megan Grumbling 11/4/2009 (Excerpts)
The Good Theater’s tour de force production, tautly directed by Brian P. Allen, features a virtuoso cast and a stunning performance by Tony Reilly as the fallen president.
Nixon and Frost are worthy adversaries, but it’s hard to imagine men more diametrically opposed in appearance and personality. Reilly undergoes a jaw-dropping physical transformation in the hands of hair and make-up people, and is guttural, rough, and heavy on his feet. In contrast, the bird-like, dulcet Jon Robert Stafford is pitch-perfect as the man who creates television confections as light and feathery as his hair.
Frost hopes that dealing with Nixon will be another matter entirely. As he heckles over terms with Nixon, he assembles a team to assist him: Frost’s friend and fellow Brit John Birt (Paul Haley), along with lefty Americans Bob Zelnick (Brent Askari) and Jim Reston (Craig Bowden). All are perfectly cast, and the characters of the slender, graceful Stafford and Haley strike a marvelous contrast to the blunter and less refined Americans. As Reston, author of four books excoriating Nixon, Bowden (who in brown corduroy and floppy hair looks perfect) has a monotone and scowl that suit the writer’s resigned cynicism, and Askari gives Zelnick great energy and acuity.
Leading the opposing team’s back-up is Jack Rennan, Nixon’s chief of staff and true-believer, whom a buzz-cut Mike Kimball gives a broad military gait and the force of unwavering conviction. Helping heckle over terms and dollar amounts is the canny agent Swifty Lazaar (Bob McCormack, in a great character performance), and Seth Berner plays his manservant Manolo. Two other actors, Janis Greim and April Singley, do fine and convincing work in a number of supporting roles.
And Reilly is simply a marvel — the Nixon of his rich and complex portrait is funny and poignant, infuriating and sad. He has scene after scene of priceless material and delivery: Nixon’s wistful rambling about his dead father’s fruit orchard: "It was the poorest lemon ranch in California." Nixon in a white tux, sweating and fumbling his cue cards as he tells a dentists’ banquet about awkward dinner moments with Chairman and Mrs. Mao. Nixon’s joking but painful allusions to his humiliations in the Kennedy-Nixon debate, as he requests breaks to swab his brow and upper lip. Most affecting is his own half-shamed self-awareness: Even as he teases Frost about the Brit’s fair hair and eyebrows that never need trimming, his jocular derision is really for himself.
Reilly commands all attention during his interview sessions, even as his Nixon evades Frost’s questions and outrages Team Frost, who watch from the sidelines as if in the spill of the sound-stage lights. And as Nixon builds to his and the play’s climax — the infamous avowal that "when the President of the United States does something, it’s not illegal" — nobody even breathes. In the magnificent aftermath, we see Nixon seeing himself: A heavy who knows both his own weight, and the inexorable momentum of its fall.
Richard Nixon – Tony Reilly
David Frost – Jon Robert Stafford
Jim Reston – Craig Bowden
John Birt – Paul Haley
Bob Zelnick – Brent Askari
Jack Brennan – Michael Kimball
Swifty Lazar – Bob McCormack
Caroline Cushing – April Singley
Yvonne Goolagong – Janis Greim
Manoel – Seth Berner
Director – Brian P. Allen
Assistant Director – Adam Gutgsell
Scenic Artist – Janet Montgomery
Costumes/wigs – Devon Ash
Lighting Design – Jamie Grant
Production Stage Manager – Joshua Hurd
Tech Director – Stephen Underwood
Assistant Tech Director – Craig Robinson
* Member Actors' Equity Association