Edward Hibbert Goes From London Courtroom To ‘Fantasy Island’

30 Jul 1998

Edward Hibbert returned his Oscar Wilde role in Gross Indecency to its originator, Michael Emerson, then visited family in London for a week, then flew to Los Angeles to do three days of ABC-TV promotion and is now poised to start lensing in Hawaii, at the beginning of August, the first 12 episodes of a new "Fantasy Island" that the network is activating.

Edward Hibbert returned his Oscar Wilde role in Gross Indecency to its originator, Michael Emerson, then visited family in London for a week, then flew to Los Angeles to do three days of ABC-TV promotion and is now poised to start lensing in Hawaii, at the beginning of August, the first 12 episodes of a new "Fantasy Island" that the network is activating.

Ricardo Montalbam could not be persuaded to make this return trip so his role function is being filled by Malcolm McDowell. Hibbert — best-known to Off-Broadway audiences as that impeccable Brit, Stirling, in Paul Rudnick’s Jeffrey — will co-star as a snooty character not in the original series: namely, the concierge of Fantasy Island Hotel. "A bit of class, some good suits and some good dialogue," is Hibbert’s deft way of summing up his new role.

"I think it’s very exciting," the English actor admits. "I never saw the original show, but everyone seems to have loved it. This will be a very different version of that. The same idea — people come to the island, and they live out their fantasies — but the approach is different."

Hibbert’s previous adventure in Sitcomland was the recurring role of the restaurant critic on Frasier. "It was a wonderful kind of annuity, and I certainly hope it continues," he says.

Still, Hibbert knows — or hopes he knows — where his next play is coming from: "There’s a play I want to do in New York next summer, and I’ve been talking to people about it. It’s very hush-hush right now. My feeling is I love doing television, but, having done a stint of it, to come back and do theatre whenever I can is very important to me. It’s a little like going back to the gym."

— By Harry Haun

SOURCE:   http://www.playbill.com/news/article/40293.html

Michael Emerson Returns To NY Gross Indecency, June 25

25 Jun 1998

On June 25, Michael Emerson returns to Off-Broadway to play Oscar Wilde, the role he created in the long-running hit, Gross Indecency. In recent months, he has starred in the Moises Kaufman play in San Francisco and then Los Angeles.

On June 25, Michael Emerson returns to Off-Broadway to play Oscar Wilde, the role he created in the long-running hit, Gross Indecency. In recent months, he has starred in the Moises Kaufman play in San Francisco and then Los Angeles.

Gross Indecency, written and directed by Kaufman, also stars Bill Dawes (Lord Alfred), Robert Blumenfeld, James Coyle, John McAdams, Andy Paris, Greg Pierotti, Greg Steinbruner and Don Wildman. Designing the show are Sarah Lambert (sets), Kitty Leech (costumes), Betsy Adams (lighting) and Wayne Frost (sound/original music).

Kaufman’s biographical drama won the Lucille Lortel and Outer Critics Circle Award (a tie with Beauty Queen of Leenane) for Best Play. Indecency’s international plans are just beginning, what with a Toronto production occurring this month and a London mounting planned for the fall.

For tickets ($29.50-$47.50) and information on Gross Indecency at the Minetta Lane Theatre, 18 Minetta Lane, call (212) 420-8000.

— By David Lefkowitz

Source:  http://www.playbill.com/news/article/39795.html

First Jeffrey, Then Reg, Now Oscar Wilde For TV's Hibbert

10 Nov 1997

He’s made a specialty of playing effete but tart-tongued gay men, now Edward Hibbert will get to play the prototype of all those characters: Oscar Wilde himself. Nov. 11, Hibbert replaces the acclaimed Michael Emerson in Moises Kaufman’s Off-Broadway hit, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials Of Oscar Wilde.

He’s made a specialty of playing effete but tart-tongued gay men, now Edward Hibbert will get to play the prototype of all those characters: Oscar Wilde himself. Nov. 11, Hibbert replaces the acclaimed Michael Emerson in Moises Kaufman’s Off-Broadway hit, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials Of Oscar Wilde.

Hibbert’s previous stage appearances included Paul Rudnick’s Jeffrey and My Night With Reg. He also has a recurring role on television’s Frasier.

Emerson isn’t giving up Wilde, however; he’s starring in the play’s first production outside New York. Previews for Gross Indecency at San Francisco’s Theatre On The Square are set to begin Nov. 21.

Fueled by an unqualified rave by the New York Times’ Ben Brantley, Moises Kaufman’s Oscar Wilde deconstruction made the jump from Off-Off Broadway to the larger Minetta Lane Theatre Off-Broadway, June 5. Gross Indecency previously ran to May 4 at the Greenwich House Theatre space on Barrow Street. The show, produced by Tectonic Theatre Project, Inc. (TTP), started performances at the Minetta Lane May 20.

Gross Indecency follows "the arrest, judgment and sentencing of the most celebrated playwright of his time." Directed by Kaufman, the drama makes use of original transcripts and letters, as well as biographical material on Wilde.

The Importance Of Being Earnest may be a staple of theatres around the world, and an An Ideal Husband and Salome have both had recent, star-studded Broadway productions, but in his day, legendary wit Oscar Wilde wasn’t quite so well accepted. He was sentenced to two years’ hard labor in an English prison for "gross indecency with male persons" — in other words, the crime of homosexuality. Upon his release, he moved to France and died of meningitis three years later.

Viewers who think Wilde was simply arrested and tried for being gay in England might be surprised at the full story told here: Wilde first sued Lord Queensberry for defamation of character, but the suit backfired, with Wilde becoming the victim of his own pride — and England’s hypocritical legal system.

Appearing with Hibbert in the show are Bill Dawes, John McAdams, Trevor Anthony, Robert Blumenfeld, Troy Sostillio, Andy Paris, Greg Pierotti and Greg Steinbruner. Designers are Sarah Lambert (set), Kitty Leech (costumes), and Betsy Adams (lighting).

According to production spokesperson Kevin McAnarney, playwright Kaufman has received more than a half dozen movie offers despite the fact that two Oscar Wilde movies are already in the pipeline. Regardless of the play’s cinematic future, McAnarney predicts a long afterlife for Gross Indecency on the regional theatre circuit, as representatives from a number of major theatres have been making the trek to Minetta Lane to scout out the production." The show has already paid back its $400,000 initial investment. Author/director Kaufman received the Stage Directors & Choreographers Foundation’s Joe A. Callaway Award for his work on the show.

TTP, a non-profit group, specializess in plays that "explore theatrical language and form." Their last show, Franz Xaver Kroetz’s The Nest (1994), directed by Kaufman, was named "one of the ten best productions of the season" by the Village Voice. (Tectonics is the science or art of construction and also concerns faults and deformations of the earth’s crust.)

For tickets ($29.50-$45) and information on Gross Indecency – The Three Trials Of Oscar Wilde at the Minetta Lane Theatre, call (212) 420-8000.

–By David Lefkowitz

Source:  http://www.playbill.com/news/article/35678.html

First Jeffrey, Then Reg, Now Oscar Wilde For TV’s Hibbert

10 Nov 1997

He’s made a specialty of playing effete but tart-tongued gay men, now Edward Hibbert will get to play the prototype of all those characters: Oscar Wilde himself. Nov. 11, Hibbert replaces the acclaimed Michael Emerson in Moises Kaufman’s Off-Broadway hit, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials Of Oscar Wilde.

He’s made a specialty of playing effete but tart-tongued gay men, now Edward Hibbert will get to play the prototype of all those characters: Oscar Wilde himself. Nov. 11, Hibbert replaces the acclaimed Michael Emerson in Moises Kaufman’s Off-Broadway hit, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials Of Oscar Wilde.

Hibbert’s previous stage appearances included Paul Rudnick’s Jeffrey and My Night With Reg. He also has a recurring role on television’s Frasier.

Emerson isn’t giving up Wilde, however; he’s starring in the play’s first production outside New York. Previews for Gross Indecency at San Francisco’s Theatre On The Square are set to begin Nov. 21.

Fueled by an unqualified rave by the New York Times’ Ben Brantley, Moises Kaufman’s Oscar Wilde deconstruction made the jump from Off-Off Broadway to the larger Minetta Lane Theatre Off-Broadway, June 5. Gross Indecency previously ran to May 4 at the Greenwich House Theatre space on Barrow Street. The show, produced by Tectonic Theatre Project, Inc. (TTP), started performances at the Minetta Lane May 20.

Gross Indecency follows "the arrest, judgment and sentencing of the most celebrated playwright of his time." Directed by Kaufman, the drama makes use of original transcripts and letters, as well as biographical material on Wilde.

The Importance Of Being Earnest may be a staple of theatres around the world, and an An Ideal Husband and Salome have both had recent, star-studded Broadway productions, but in his day, legendary wit Oscar Wilde wasn’t quite so well accepted. He was sentenced to two years’ hard labor in an English prison for "gross indecency with male persons" — in other words, the crime of homosexuality. Upon his release, he moved to France and died of meningitis three years later.

Viewers who think Wilde was simply arrested and tried for being gay in England might be surprised at the full story told here: Wilde first sued Lord Queensberry for defamation of character, but the suit backfired, with Wilde becoming the victim of his own pride — and England’s hypocritical legal system.

Appearing with Hibbert in the show are Bill Dawes, John McAdams, Trevor Anthony, Robert Blumenfeld, Troy Sostillio, Andy Paris, Greg Pierotti and Greg Steinbruner. Designers are Sarah Lambert (set), Kitty Leech (costumes), and Betsy Adams (lighting).

According to production spokesperson Kevin McAnarney, playwright Kaufman has received more than a half dozen movie offers despite the fact that two Oscar Wilde movies are already in the pipeline. Regardless of the play’s cinematic future, McAnarney predicts a long afterlife for Gross Indecency on the regional theatre circuit, as representatives from a number of major theatres have been making the trek to Minetta Lane to scout out the production." The show has already paid back its $400,000 initial investment. Author/director Kaufman received the Stage Directors & Choreographers Foundation’s Joe A. Callaway Award for his work on the show.

TTP, a non-profit group, specializess in plays that "explore theatrical language and form." Their last show, Franz Xaver Kroetz’s The Nest (1994), directed by Kaufman, was named "one of the ten best productions of the season" by the Village Voice. (Tectonics is the science or art of construction and also concerns faults and deformations of the earth’s crust.)

For tickets ($29.50-$45) and information on Gross Indecency – The Three Trials Of Oscar Wilde at the Minetta Lane Theatre, call (212) 420-8000.

–By David Lefkowitz

Source:  http://www.playbill.com/news/article/35678.html

Michael Emerson's Journey From Farm Boy to Oscar Wilde

20 Sep 1997

Michael Emerson, whose title role in Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde garnered critical acclaim, got hooked on acting at age nine in a tiny Iowa farm town. He applied himself in high school — not in the drama club but in speech. "I always gravitated toward language," said the actor at the Minetta Lane Theatre, where Wilde’s language and wit are central to his ultimate undoing.

"After studying theatre at college, I couldn’t get to Broadway fast enough," said Emerson. "I thought I was too big for Iowa, so I moved to New York and found it too big for me. By the time I got a job and an apartment, my theatrical interest had evaporated. For ten years it was all I could do to survive." He ended up an illustrator. "After seeing Sam Shepard’s Buried Child, which had my hair standing on end, I realized acting was something I wanted. I took classes but ran out of steam."

Moving to Jacksonville, Florida, "I did whatever I could, wherever I could in community theatre: designed scenery, acted and directed. With commercials and training films, I made half a sensible person’s living."

Michael Emerson, whose title role in Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde garnered critical acclaim, got hooked on acting at age nine in a tiny Iowa farm town. He applied himself in high school — not in the drama club but in speech. "I always gravitated toward language," said the actor at the Minetta Lane Theatre, where Wilde’s language and wit are central to his ultimate undoing.

"After studying theatre at college, I couldn’t get to Broadway fast enough," said Emerson. "I thought I was too big for Iowa, so I moved to New York and found it too big for me. By the time I got a job and an apartment, my theatrical interest had evaporated. For ten years it was all I could do to survive." He ended up an illustrator. "After seeing Sam Shepard’s Buried Child, which had my hair standing on end, I realized acting was something I wanted. I took classes but ran out of steam."

Moving to Jacksonville, Florida, "I did whatever I could, wherever I could in community theatre: designed scenery, acted and directed. With commercials and training films, I made half a sensible person’s living."

Driving around the South in his pick-up, Emerson "became everyone’s favorite non-union gypsy actor in classic repertory," he laughed. "When I’d gone about as far as I could go, it was hitting New York cold not an appealing prospect — or an MFA program."

At 38 he joined the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and felt like "the world’s oldest graduate student. They ran me ragged two years. I was immersed — body and brain in theatre."

Emerson says he’s not convinced acting can be taught. "You can train the voice and body, but how about timing? It’s ingrained." He’s kept acting "to get another perspective on myself so people look at me fresh."

On his New York return no one looked — until earlier this year, "when a friend told me Moises Kaufman was looking for someone older than 35 who could walk, chew gum and do a British dialect. I’d done Wilde and read his plays but knew little of his personal life."

Kaufman’s Off-Off-Broadway showcase was well received. "The best we’d hoped was that some agent would come," said Emerson, 42, the same age as when Wilde stood trial, "but we rehearsed as if life and death depended on it." Good strategy, since in one audience was The New York Times‘s chief drama critic, whose review created an overnight smash and, for Emerson, overnight stardom.

"The press is almost embarrassing," he said. "What do you say to good actors who aren’t riding the crest of such a wave?"

Since moving Off-Broadway, Emerson’s done a movie and had tempting Broadway offers, which he rejected. "It’s a great role and more money than I’m used to," he said. "The show’s still fresh and nerve-racking. It’s every actor’s dream come true!"

— By Ellis Nassour

 SOURCE:  http://www.playbill.com/features/article/64578.html

Michael Emerson’s Journey From Farm Boy to Oscar Wilde

20 Sep 1997

Michael Emerson, whose title role in Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde garnered critical acclaim, got hooked on acting at age nine in a tiny Iowa farm town. He applied himself in high school — not in the drama club but in speech. "I always gravitated toward language," said the actor at the Minetta Lane Theatre, where Wilde’s language and wit are central to his ultimate undoing.

"After studying theatre at college, I couldn’t get to Broadway fast enough," said Emerson. "I thought I was too big for Iowa, so I moved to New York and found it too big for me. By the time I got a job and an apartment, my theatrical interest had evaporated. For ten years it was all I could do to survive." He ended up an illustrator. "After seeing Sam Shepard’s Buried Child, which had my hair standing on end, I realized acting was something I wanted. I took classes but ran out of steam."

Moving to Jacksonville, Florida, "I did whatever I could, wherever I could in community theatre: designed scenery, acted and directed. With commercials and training films, I made half a sensible person’s living."

Michael Emerson, whose title role in Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde garnered critical acclaim, got hooked on acting at age nine in a tiny Iowa farm town. He applied himself in high school — not in the drama club but in speech. "I always gravitated toward language," said the actor at the Minetta Lane Theatre, where Wilde’s language and wit are central to his ultimate undoing.

"After studying theatre at college, I couldn’t get to Broadway fast enough," said Emerson. "I thought I was too big for Iowa, so I moved to New York and found it too big for me. By the time I got a job and an apartment, my theatrical interest had evaporated. For ten years it was all I could do to survive." He ended up an illustrator. "After seeing Sam Shepard’s Buried Child, which had my hair standing on end, I realized acting was something I wanted. I took classes but ran out of steam."

Moving to Jacksonville, Florida, "I did whatever I could, wherever I could in community theatre: designed scenery, acted and directed. With commercials and training films, I made half a sensible person’s living."

Driving around the South in his pick-up, Emerson "became everyone’s favorite non-union gypsy actor in classic repertory," he laughed. "When I’d gone about as far as I could go, it was hitting New York cold not an appealing prospect — or an MFA program."

At 38 he joined the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and felt like "the world’s oldest graduate student. They ran me ragged two years. I was immersed — body and brain in theatre."

Emerson says he’s not convinced acting can be taught. "You can train the voice and body, but how about timing? It’s ingrained." He’s kept acting "to get another perspective on myself so people look at me fresh."

On his New York return no one looked — until earlier this year, "when a friend told me Moises Kaufman was looking for someone older than 35 who could walk, chew gum and do a British dialect. I’d done Wilde and read his plays but knew little of his personal life."

Kaufman’s Off-Off-Broadway showcase was well received. "The best we’d hoped was that some agent would come," said Emerson, 42, the same age as when Wilde stood trial, "but we rehearsed as if life and death depended on it." Good strategy, since in one audience was The New York Times‘s chief drama critic, whose review created an overnight smash and, for Emerson, overnight stardom.

"The press is almost embarrassing," he said. "What do you say to good actors who aren’t riding the crest of such a wave?"

Since moving Off-Broadway, Emerson’s done a movie and had tempting Broadway offers, which he rejected. "It’s a great role and more money than I’m used to," he said. "The show’s still fresh and nerve-racking. It’s every actor’s dream come true!"

— By Ellis Nassour

 SOURCE:  http://www.playbill.com/features/article/64578.html