One’s a celebrated British-born expert on all things Shakespeare; a veteran of Broadway and the West End who won an Obie for playing no less melancholy a Dane than Hamlet.
The other’s a native son of Lawn Guyland who’s “known as much for polarizing politics, paternal peccadillos and personal-life pugnacity as for his powerhouse performances.” An actor whose adventures on the Great White Way have run more toward the Stanley Kowalski end of things — and whose Oscar nommed, Emmy winning forays as various smartguys, mademen, bigshots and slick anti-heroes are crowned by this, his most eloquent soliloquy.
Sounds like a surefire pitch for a network sitcom, you bet — but if Alec Baldwin and Michael Cumpsty haven’t quite hashed out the contracts for a new revival of The Odd Couple or even The Sunshine Boys, they’ve nonetheless apparently got much to talk about.
One of those bits of common ground revolves around Red Bank’s Two River Theater, the Bridge Avenue performing artspace upon whose boards both gents have trod — although not at the same time. On the night of Monday, November 21, however, they’ll be working to rectify that, as Cumpsty joins Baldwin for an intimate evening of scenes and stories that could ONLY be subtitled An Intimate Evening of Scenes and Stories.
Our wife Stuffy allowed a starstruck Alec Baldwin a quick photo op during his 2009 fundraiser at Two River Theater, in the days before cell phones took good pictures.
Cumpsty, of course, is the stage star (1776, 42nd Street, Richard III, Sunday in the Park with George) who recently topped the heavyweight cast in Two River’s season opening production of Much Ado About Nothing — and who, with Two River Theater Company artistic director John Dias, maintains a home in Middletown when he’s not swashbuckling betwixt Broadway, Hollywood and wherever it is that premium cable comes from.
Baldwin’s turn under the Two River proscenium occurred in November of 2009, when the famed actor participated in an entertaining and informal Q&A session as a benefit for the nonprofit Junior League of Monmouth County. We had the pleasure of meeting and greeting the man o’ the hour at a pre-show reception (dude even made off with our Flair pen when he commandeered our table as autograph kiosk), and our daughter Maggie — who freshly re-posted her Alec-and-Me photo to Facebook as recently as a couple weeks ago — still talks about it as “the greatest moment of my life.” Greater even than the time she ran into a wigless Tyra Banks at a candy store.
For the 8pm event being marketed as Alec Baldwin. Michael Cumpsty. Unplugged., the actors will be featured “in conversation” (title aside, presumably with electrical amplification), and in a format that’s slated to include “scenes from great classics and comedies, as well as stories about their careers on stage and screen.”
“We thought it would be a fun and exciting idea to have two actors talking about things they do,” Dias told John Ward at the redbankgreen website — dropping some unsubtle hints in the process to the effect that this loosely structured presentation could someday lead to a more formal working engagement between Baldwin Brother Number One and the TRTC team.
Dias, as it turns out, also boasts a previous professional history with Baldwin, dating to the star’s 1998 turn as Macbeth (yes, Baldwins can do Bard too) at NYC’s Public Theater, where Dias served as dramaturg.
Tickets for the November 21 — and we’re inclined to believe they’d be a hot ticket indeed — range between $50 to $350, with the top-tier tix (only 60 of which will be sold) allowing premium seating plus access to a 6pm cocktail/ hors d’oeuvre/ photo op reception with the stars. Take it here to reserve.