Tom Cruise and Oprah at Katie's Play: A Review

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Friday night, after we scored a couple of tickets to the star-studded new production of Arthur Miller's All My Sons, we were looking forward to elbowing our way past a mob of Guy Fawkes impersonators picketing the Schoenfeld Theater.

A small force of representatives from the local Anonymous movement, regular Runnin' Scared readers will recall, had set up a noisy demonstration Thursday night to protest the play's opening because it stars Katie Holmes, a recent Scientology convert and the young wife of longtime L. Ron Hubbard worshiper Tom Cruise.

But on Friday, nary a protester was spotted as we rushed to the Schoenfeld.

Apparently, Anonymous had put all its efforts into opening night. But after what we saw Friday night, we're pretty certain they'll be kicking themselves for not showing up the second night as well.

We had excellent seats, squeezing in just as the play was scheduled to begin. But we noticed that some folks were also running late -- the three rows directly in front of us were mostly empty in a packed house.

A familar gent soon seated himself in the next row in front of our party, and it took us a while before we realized it was Simon McBurney, the play's director. (One of us recognized him from his swishy character in Friends With Money.) McBurney's decision to add film projections and nearly constant background music and other cinematic elements to the play has been raising the hackles of most critics.

But before the play could begin, there was another sound effect spreading through the theater -- the gasps of the audience as someone else sat down in front of us. It was Oprah Winfrey, looking a bit worn out -- it must have been a bumpy flight from Chicago.

And just a moment later, sprightly little Tom Cruise himself manifested, and he and Oprah gave each other a couple of smooches.

Cruise sat down directly in front of us, two rows down, just as John Lithgow led the rest of the ensemble on stage to begin the play itself.

If you've read the critics, you know that Lithgow and Dianne Wiest perform their roles masterfully, Patrick Wilson emotes professionally, and Katie Holmes yells every damn line at exactly the same pitch no matter what the situation.

Tom, however, seemed pleased when his wife made her entrance. But just as the first act was ending, he dashed out with a couple of beefy bodyguards so he wouldn't have to mix with the rest of us at intermission.

At least Oprah came back for the second and third acts.

Not being theater critics, we decided we actually enjoyed the staging choices. Maybe we're just used to seeing movies, and appreciated the rising music at tense moments, and the film projections that reinforced the themes of the play.

We liked McBurney's direction, and we told him so.

But we couldn't get near Oprah. She was mobbed.

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