Roundabout’s THE ROAD TO MECCA opens tonight on Broadway at the American Airlines Theatre (227 W42nd St).
January 15, 2012
Carla Gugino and Rosemary Harris bond on Broadway
By MARK KENNEDY
NEW YORK — Carla Gugino and Rosemary Harris play characters who look after one another in a new Broadway revival of Athol Fugard’s play “The Road to Mecca.” They look after each other off-stage as well.
The younger actress has taken to showing her affection for her venerable co-star by bringing her such treats as brownies and chocolate.
“She leaves wonderful, beautiful little dishes of food outside my door like a puppy dog,” Harris, 84, coos during a joint interview in her dressing room at the American Airlines Theater. “I’ll part the curtain and there’s a wonderful little meal sitting there.”
Gugino, 40, a star of such films as “Watchmen” and “Spy Kids,” says she can’t help herself. “I’m Italian and I do love food. So whatever I get for myself I just drop little things,” she says. “I feel seriously protective of her.”
That sentiment certainly has found its way into the performance of the play, which tells the story of a reclusive and ailing widow in 1974 rural South Africa who follows her artistic muse by creating odd sculptures.
The widow, played by Harris, finds herself the center of a tug-of-war between a local priest, played by Jim Dale, who finds her work to be idolatrous and wants to pack her off to a retirement home, and a young school teacher, played by Gugino, who cares for the elder woman, finding her inspiring and urging her to keep creating uncomfortable art.
Gugino and Harris had never met or acted together before the play and neither had ever appeared in a Fugard piece. But after attending a reading in July 2011 held by the Roundabout Theatre Company, they fell in love with a work that is ultimately about the bravery of artists.
“None of these characters are one-note,” says Gugino, who was previously on Broadway in “Desire Under the Elms” in 2009 and “After the Fall” in 2004. “They surprise themselves and they surprise each other constantly throughout.”
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