Wednesday, November 4, 2009

More Line Trouble

Last week, I dipped my toe into a controversy which has since returned to my radar. It all started with a New York Times article regarding Matthew Broderick and his difficulty with his lines during the preview period of Starry Messenger. He was making use of a prompter during performances, which irritated some audience members. (Nobody seems irritated at Lynn Redgrave, who just opened her newest solo show at Manhattan Theatre Club, and is reading the whole thing. But perhaps that's apples and oranges...) Anyhoo, that same NY Times piece spent a bit of time relating the tale of actor Matt Mulhern, who was dismissed from a production at Hartford Stage for hiding a cheat sheet (with line prompts) in his hat during previews for The Orphan's Home Cycle. I did not reference that part of the article at the time, because my gut was telling me there was more to that story than the Times was reporting, or the actor was admitting.
(the actor standing on the far right is Lucas Caleb Rooney, who was the cast member who assumed the roles vacated by Mulhern)

The actor in question (FULL DISCLOSURE ALERT!!) is a friend of a friend of mine, but I have never met nor worked with him myself. He has an active career on stage and screen, a career which has likely been damaged by the Times piece. Below, I have included Matt's video response to what he claims are inaccuracies in the report of his firing (the first of his career). As an actor, I find it a compelling tale, but am still not sure we are getting the entire story.

It is inconceivable to me that a director (Michael Wilson, who is also artistic director of Hartford Stage) would so easily sabotage his Opening Night by firing a principal actor the day before. I have a hunch he was jonesing to get rid of this actor for reasons other than cheat sheets in hats, and snapped up the opportunity (Mulhern revealed to the Times during his interview that he had "ruffled feathers among colleagues for a variety of other reasons" during the rehearsal period).

As of now, we don't know the actual reason Hartford Stage dumped Matt Mulhern; contractually, they are required to offer "cause," but so far, have declined to do so. Actors Equity Association, the union involved, seems to be waiting quite patiently, as the firing took place in early September. Meanwhile, actor Matt Mulhern is left twisting in the wind...