"I don't need to be busy. I need to be necessary!" is one of the most powerful lines I have ever heard in a play. Brilliantly delivered by Margaret Colin, in Manhattan Theatre Club's production of David Auburn's "The Columnist," this show is definitely one worth taking in.
Starring John Lithgow, Margaret Colin, Boyd Gaines, Stephen Kunken, Marc Bonan, Grace Gummer, and Brian J. Smith, "The Columnist" tells the story of journalist "Joseph Alsop," equistiely performed by Tony and Emmy Award winner John Lithgow. "Joseph Alsop" was one of the most beloved, feared, and courted political journalists in Washington during the 1960s. As time went on and the climate changed, the political dramas "Joseph" talked about became very personal.
While "The Columnist" is about the life "Joseph Alsop" during the 60s, it really tells a story about self love, respect, and acceptance. One of the most interesting aspects of a period piece like "The Columnist" is getting to compare life today to life back then. There are so many timely issues in "The Columnist" that still resonate strongly today. "The Columnist touches on politics, war, homosexuality, love, sacrifice, parenting, blended families, and sibling relations.
John Lithgow received a Tony nomination for his portrayal of "Joseph Alsop," and after seeing the show, I see exactly why he was so worthy of this honor. John's performance is mesmerizing and commanding. John has many emotional scenes throughout "The Columnist" which he performs wonderfully. I am able to feel the angst, sadness, and frustration which John emotes. Margaret Colin triumphantly portrays John's fiance "Susan Mary Alsop" who's self discovery is quite remarkable to watch, especially when she gets to "I don't want to be busy. I want to be necessary!" Margaret powerfully delivers this emotional moment. From that moment on, I feel a new woman is born. As "Andrei," Brian J. Smith is perfectly cast. More than just a pretty face, Brian's talent is noticeable from the start. Acting solely with John Lithgow, Brian stands on his own, making me focus equally on both actors. I have not seen an actor retain a character's accent as well as Brian in a long time. Grace Gummer did an excellent job as "Abigail," Margaret's daughter. This is the second show, I've seen Grace in, and once again, she is so enjoyable to watch, especially her very touching scene with John. Rounding out the cast are Boyd Gaines as "Stewart Alsop," John's brother, Stephen Kunken as "Halberstam," and Marc Bonan as "Philip" who all did a fine job.
If you are looking for a show to relate to, inspire you, or you just want to see good acting, then I suggest checking out "The Columnist" at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre in NYC (261 West 47th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue). Click here for tickets!