If you haven’t yet seen the mastery of Nathan Lane live in a Broadway show, hurry and get tickets to Pictures From Home, because this drama, currently running at Studio 54, may be his last.
According to Variety, Lane teased that he might be hanging up the greasepaint. Pictures From Home is the Tony Award winner’s 25th Broadway show — and that’s a milestone he might just leave alone.
“This may be the last one,” Lane told Stagecraft, Variety’s theater podcast. “This may be my swan song! Winters in New York — I don’t know how many more I can take. And eight shows a week is a big ask.”
It’s a big ask for the 67-year-old who came out publicly in 1999, driven by the brutal slaying of Matthew Shepard, and the ensuing battle for hate crimes legislation and LGBT equal rights. Lane has been a long-time board member of and fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and garnered a mainstream following from his portrayal of Albert Goldman opposite Robin Williams in the 1996 hit film, The Birdcage. Since then, he has played numerous gay roles including wedding planner Pepper Saltzman in Modern Family.
Lane has defended straight actors playing gay roles largely because he believes talent should lead casting — and he should be allowed to play straight characters such as Max Bialystock in The Producers, which he did convincingly and to acclaim; similarly as Detroit in Guys and Dolls.
While Lane is also prolific on TV and in film, he told the pod he likely would come back to the theater because it’s the “purest” form of acting for him, and he considers the medium home.
Photos: Julieta Cervantes
But if you’re worried you might miss him treading the boards, do hasten to see Pictures From Home. Lane plays straight — in this instance a retired salesman who lives off proud memories of his climb up the corporate ladder and providing the quintessential Californian American Dream to his son, who finds his dad a complete mystery and sets about photographing him in the hopes of deconstructing the patriarch.
Lane is joined by the ever-brilliant Zoë Wanamaker as his bristly but compassionate wife, and Danny Burstein as his academic, earnest but alienated son. Based on the photo memoir by Larry Sultan, adapted to the stage by Sharr White, and staged by award-winning director Bartlett Sher, the play is a talky wordfest, peppered by memories, anecdotes, dreams, and a lot of defensiveness – not to mention cringeworthy interior design — as the three argue over what really happened in their family and what it all means. It is a hefty role for Lane, whose character, Irving Sultan, is a lot to embody, and Lane pulls off the feat with stamina and not a word or foot put wrong. Sultan refuses to budge in his son’s eyes about what it means to be a husband, a father, a breadwinner, and a boss — even when time casts him aside.
Unlike Irving Sultan, though, I think Nathan Lane will indeed be back.
Tickets for Pictures From Home are available online here or by phone at 833-CRI-TIXS (833-274-8497) and in person at the Studio 54 on Broadway.