Brian Dennehy visits Theatre of Western Springs
Brian Dennehy talks with artistic director Rick Snyder at the Theatre of Western Springs.
Updated: July 29, 2012 6:05AM
The Theatre of Western Springs welcomed Brian Dennehy, renowned film, stage and screen actor, for an informal two-hour talk with active members and subscribers June11. More than 350 people attended.
Dennehy is in Chicago performing the role of Larry Slade in Goodman Theatre’s “The Iceman Cometh” with Nathan Lane. The play closes Sunday, June 17. In 1992, he played the lead role of Hickey in the same play, also at the Goodman Theatre.
Ed Wavak of Hinsdale, a active member, invited Dennehy to be the theatre’s special guest as part of the theater’s Cattell Lecture Series.
“He couldn’t have been nicer,” Wavak said.
Dennehy told the audience of the challenges of breaking into theatre and film. He described in detail some of his favorite experiences, one of them being the making the 1985 movie “Cocoon” in St. Petersburg, Fla.
“God, it was fun,” Dennehy said. “I mean to get to work with Maureen Stapleton, Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, Gwen Verdon, Jack Gilford and Don Ameche. It was just a great experience.”
Dennehy described at length his feelings about art in general, acting in particular, and he shared some very personal and interesting backstage stories. He answered questions from the audience and stayed after the program for a reception in the theater lobby.
Dennehy has won two Tony Awards, both times for Best Lead Actor in a Play. The first Tony was for “Death of a Salesman” for which he also won a Laurence Olivier Award for the production’s London run, in 1999, and the second was for Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey into Night” in 2003. Both productions were directed by Robert Falls and were originally produced at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago.
In fact, Dennehy has performed frequently in Chicago. In 1999, he was the first male performer to be voted the Sarah Siddons Award for his work in Chicago theater.
He made a return to Broadway in 2007 as Matthew Harrison Brady in “Inherit the Wind” opposite Christopher Plummer then returned to Chicago again opposite Carla Gugino in a 2009 revival of Eugene O’Neill’s “Desire Under the Elms.”
The Cattell Lecture Series, named for theater founder Mary Cattell, features a variety of prominent speakers from the world of theatre. Past speakers have included a nationally renowned critic, artistic directors, professional actors, casting directors, and experts in stage combat or puppeteering.
The Cattell Lecture Series is free and most lectures are open to the public. For more information, visit www.theatreofwesternsprings.com or call 708-246-4043.