At the end of The Whale, the sound stops abruptly and the stage suddenly goes black. On March 15, First Night of Samuel D. Hunter’s new play, directed by Martin Benson, that moment was followed by stunned silence from the audience.
Sometimes this happens on opening night of a great play, as it did on January 29, 1947, when the curtain came down on Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. Miller thought his play was a flop. Then audience members let out a collective roar of praise as they rose to their feet.
And that’s exactly what followed on opening night of The Whale. “It was emotional,” said Elizabeth Williams, Honorary Producer with her husband Ryan and her mother Mary Beth Adderley. And as they gathered for the Cast Party at Scotts’s Restaurant & Bar, everyone agreed—and so did the critics in the days that followed, led by the Los Angeles Times (“deeply moving”) and the Orange County Register (“absorbing”).
Later, Elizabeth spoke more at length about the play, saying, “It was very shocking, realizing that Charlie’s daughter, despite her rages during the play wanted to connect with her father.” Ryan added, “It’s extremely powerful—and profoundly moving at the end, to find that she really loved him.”
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