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Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern

Frost/Nixon
Maltz Jupiter Theatre
Review by John Lariviere | Season Schedule

Also see Jeffrey's reviews of Long Day's Journey into Night and Motown the Musical


Peter Simon Hilton and John Jellison
Photo by Alicia Donelan
The Maltz Jupiter Theatre is presenting Frost/Nixon by Peter Morgan. The play originally premiered in 2006 at the Donmar Warehouse in London, England, making its Broadway opening on April 22, 2007, at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. The limited engagement closed on August 19, 2007 after 137 performances, with actor Frank Langella earning a Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award, and an Outer Critics Circle Award for his portrayal of President Richard Nixon.

In this presidential election year, nothing is more fitting than to look back at one of the most complicated men ever to have served as President of the United States. In 1977, David Frost was a struggling TV show host desperate to reignite his career, and Richard Nixon was the disgraced former President of the United States. When Frost approached Nixon about doing a series of televised interviews, he saw it as his fast track to fame. Nixon saw it as a chance to win back respect and dignity. Peter Morgan's 90-minute, one-act play is a fictionalization of these famous interviews.

John Jellison is brilliant as President Richard Nixon. He completely inhabits the role of a complex man, complete with flaws and occasional social awkwardness. His rambling, late night phone call to David Frost fraught with unexpected self-disclosure is a mesmerizing study of the character of Richard Nixon. It is inconceivable to me that he will not be nominated for a Carbonell Award for this performance.

Jellison is deftly matched with Peter Simon Hilton as David Frost as his jousting partner. Hilton's dapper, stylish appearance is a great visual contrast to Nixon's style, and he truly captures the essence of David Frost. There is a wonderful chemistry between Hilton and Jellison that is essential to conveying the relationship between the two very different, yet rather equally matched adversaries. We see the mutual respect acknowledged by both men as they prepare for battle that allows them to have a kind of friendship once it is all over.

Next to these two extraordinarily strong actors, the rest of the cast turns in fairly unimpressive performances. Their own characters are flat, and their acting choices are far too predictable. Vanessa Morosco as Caroline Cushing is thankfully the exception. Her beauty and energy is a welcome respite in a heavily male-dominated show. Generally, when Jellison and Hilton are not on stage, the show becomes boring.

The Maltz did not seem to go the extra mile to establish the look, fashion, and feel of the time period between (1974-1977) as I hoped they would. But the name of the show is Frost/Nixon, and they have cast two such astoundingly talented actors in the title roles that the rest just fades away.

Frost/Nixon will be appearing at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre through February 21, 2016. The Maltz Jupiter Theatre is located at 1001 Indiantown Rd. (just off of A1A) in Jupiter, Florida. For tickets and complete information on the theatre's offerings, contact them by phone at 561-575-2223 or 800-445-1666 FREE, or online at www.jupitertheatre.org.

Cast:
Richard Nixon: John Jellison*
David Frost: Peter Simon Hilton*
Bob Zelnick: Kenneth Kay*
John Birt: Greg Jackson*
James Reston,Jr.: Wayne LeGette*
Jack Brennan: Jim Ballard*
Caroline Cushing: Vanessa Morosco*
Manolo Sanchez: Armando Acevedo*
Swifty Lazar/Studio Manager: David Scotti*
Evonne Goolagong/Flight Attendant/Waitress: Gretchen Porro*
Studio Technician/Secret Service:Vincent Bolchoz
Studio Technician/Secret Service: Daniel Kies
Studio Technician: Robert Scruggs

Crew:
Director:J. Barry Lewis^
Scenic Design: Anne Mundell+
Lighting Design:Paul Black+
Sound Design: Marty Mets
Projection Design: Brad Peterson+
Costume Design: Robin L. McGee+
Stage Manager:Brandy Demil*

*Designates member of Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

^Designates member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, an independent national labor union.

+Designates member of the United Scenic Artists, a labor union and professional association of Designers, Artists and Craftspeople.


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