KRISTINE NIELSEN: How would I describe Present Laughter in one word scrumptious.
[Instrumental music] MORITZ VON STUELPNAGEL: Present Laughter follows egocentric celebrity Garry Essendine in a series of philandering escapades as he confronts a new kind of mid-life crisis.
KEVIN KLINE AS GARRY ESSENDINE: Good God.
I look ninety-eight!
COBIE SMULDERS: Present Laughter is about this group of characters, all sort of revolving around Mr. Garry Essendine.
KEVIN KLINE AS GARRY ESSENDINE: Where''s my present?
KATE BURTON AS LIZ ESSENDINE: On the piano bench.
KEVIN KLINE AS GARRY ESSENDINE: It''s not another glass horse, is it?
KATE BURTON AS LIZ ESSENDINE: No, it''s a dressing gown for Africa.
KEVIN KLINE AS GARRY ESSENDINE: A dressing gown, Monica!
Just what we wanted!
COBIE SMULDERS: It''s sort of an insight into this world in the late 1930s.
KEVIN KLINE AS GARRY ESSENDINE: Don''t anybody say anything important for five minutes.
COBIE SMULDERS: It''s really Garry Essendine''s world.
He has his secretary, who he''s had for decades, and his ex-wife, and his producer, director.
They''re characters that are sort of on the outskirts of this circle, who all, for one reason or another, want to be a part of it.
KEVIN KLINE AS GARRY ESSENDINE: Like a sunbeam upon the tide which the dark shadows hide TEDRA MILLAN AS DAPHNE STILLINGTON: But Garry--! KEVIN KLINE AS GARRY ESSENDINE: Quiet!
KRISTINE NIELSEN: He is a superstar of the stage.
KATE BURTON: And we kind of meet him at a crisis moment, thinking about his life and who he loves, and who loves him.
MORITZ VON STUELPNAGEL: And what is this strange community of people that I have assembled to represent a kind of family?
KEVIN KLINE AS GARRY ESSENDINE: I was in love with you for longer than I was with anyone else, you can''t grumble.
KATE BURTON: I can honestly say with a lot of love in my heart that Kevin Kline is probably one of the most extraordinary actors.
KRISTINE NIELSEN: One of our great, great, great, great, great comedians, I think.
JORDAN ROTH: Watching Kevin Kline explore and experiment, and, find ways to engage with everyone and everything around him and then watching that process come back the next night with something a little more perfected that was for me the great gift of this production.
KEVIN KLINE AS GARRY ESSENDINE: For thirty years I''ve given you everything.
I gave you my youth.
Where is my youth today?
KATE BURTON: Well I have a very interesting relationship to this play, I think I''m the only person on Broadway who has been in two different Broadway productions of Present Laughter in the last thirty-five years.
I played Daphne Stillington, the young ingénue with George C. Scott thirty-five years ago at the Circle in the Square, so I have played the very youngest lady in the play, now I''m playing one of the older ones!
KATE BURTON AS LIZ ESSENDINE: How do you do?
TEDRA MILLAN AS DAPHNE STILLINGTON: Mrs Essendine?
Do you I mean, are you Garry''s wife?
KATE BURTON AS LIZ ESSENDINE: Yes.
TEDRA MILLAN AS DAPHNE STILLINGTON: Oh, I thought you were divorced?
KATE BURTON AS LIZ ESSENDINE: Oh, we never quite got around to it.
MORITZ VON STUELPNAGEL: Present Laughter carries forward a tradition of the comedic sex farce, championed in Broadway in the West End, and certainly Noel Coward is a comedic genius in that way.
COBIE SMULDERS AS JOANNA LYPPIATT: I did the most idiotic thing.
I lost my latchkey.
KRISTINE NELSON AS MONICA REED: You lost your latchkey.
JORDAN ROTH: It is some of the most extraordinary comedy writing.
KRISTINE NIELSEN: It is much more verbally dexterous.
It''s musical in a way, without being a musical, that you have to listen for the comedy.
KRISTINE NIELSEN AS MR: What on Earth''s the matter?
KEVIN KLINE AS GARRY ESSENDINE: Have you or have you not seen me over-act?
KRISTINE NIELSEN AS MR: Frequently.
KRISTINE NIELSEN: I''m outside the door in his office, and I listen every night to be able to come in and hit the right notes.
COBIE SMULDERS: There is something in the language of Noel Coward.
KEVIN KLINE AS GARRY ESSENDINE: Every word, every phrase, every change of mood cunningly planned.
COBIE SMULDERS: Obviously it''s not how we talk now, I''m not even sure it''s how they talked then, but it''s, um, a refined way of speaking.
COBIE SMULDERS AS JOANNA LYPPIATT: You look strangely young every now and then.
COBIE SMULDERS: The words are like weapons, and especially for my character, who is sort of playing with Garry and I consider them to be sort of equal, so they''re constantly in this power struggle with each other.
KEVIN KLINE AS GARRY ESSENDINE: There''s a certain arrogance about you, a little too much self-assurance.
COBIE SMULDERS AS JOANNA LYPPIATT: You don''t care for competition, I see.
KRISTINE NIELSEN: It''s like being in a fencing match with people, it''s really, really fun.
PETER FRANCIS JAMES AS HENRY LYPPIATT: Now look here, Garry KEVIN KLINE AS GARRY ESSENDINE: No I won''t look here!
No, no, no, no!
JORDAN ROTH: In this play, we get to see actors at the top of their game, giving us truly a comedy Broadway masterclass.
COBIE SMULDERS: People who have been doing this for many years, so they are pros, and, um, I get to not only have the experience of being on a stage in front of people every night, but I am a student as well, and I''m just absorbing all of this amazing creativity and, and passion from the people on stage.
KATE BURTON AS LIZ ESSENDINE: You''d better take my car, Joanna, it''s downstairs.
TEDRA MILLAN AS DAPHNE STILLINGTON: The chauffeur''s got red hair and his name''s Frobisher.
SANDRA SHIPLEY AS LADY SALTBURN: Daphne!
KATE BURTON: The reason this play gets done so often is because of the fact that it really resounds with audiences of all ages, and it is one of those universally-themed plays.
KEVIN KLINE AS GARRY ESSENDINE: I see myself all the time!
Eating, drinking, loving, suffering!
Sometimes I think I''m going mad.
TEDRA MILLAN AS DAPHNE STILLINGTON: I could help you if only you''d let me!
KEVIN KLINE AS GARRY ESSENDINE: I''m sorry dear, what did you say?