The director and star of "Golden Boy" say Clifford Odets' boxing-themed masterpiece is still as relevant today as it was 75 years ago when it debuted at the Belasco Theatre, the same Broadway house it is playing now.
Set in 1930s New York, the stage drama follows Joe Bonaparte, a gifted young violinist torn between his love of music and the lures of fame and fortune he can achieve through boxing.
"I think it's one of the great American plays. It is extremely moving and powerful to work on. It's a great tragedy," director Bartlett Sher told United Press International during a recent interview in New York, adding the story also examines what a "golden boy" is, as well as the nature of success and how one moves ahead in his or her life.
"Those things are so great. So, it's been immensely rewarding to hack away at," Sher said.
"It feels like this play -- aside from the sort of vernacular of the play and the way of speaking -- it feels like this play could be written right now. It's incredible to look at where New York was in the 1930s and where we are now," Seth Numrich, the former "War Horse" star who now plays conflicted Joe, told UPI when "Golden Boy" was still in rehearsals in late fall.
"My character, I think is caught in that place of trying to figure out who he wants to be and what kind of success he wants to pursue and I think that's something that a lot of people continue to struggle with today and a lot of those things will ring true for people who come and watch this," the actor explained. "I have loved this play for a long time. I've known it and been familiar with it for a long time, so when I was fortunate enough to get the audition for the play, I felt right away like I think I know something about this person."
The play co-stars Tony Shalhoub as Joe's adoring but heartbroken Italian immigrant father and Danny Burstein as his protective boxing trainer -- the only people in Joe's life who truly have his best interests at heart. The critically acclaimed Lincoln Center Theater production officially opened Dec. 6 and is to wrap up its limited run Sunday. It co-stars Danny Mastrogiorgio, Anthony Crivello and Yvonne Strahovski.