Entertainment & Arts

Ben Stiller makes Broadway return

Ben Stiller and Edie Falco in The House of Blue Leaves
Image caption Stiller and Falco co-star as a New York zookeeper and his mentally unstable wife

Hollywood star Ben Stiller has returned to the Broadway stage for the first time since 1986 to act in the same dark comedy he previously appeared in.

He stars opposite Sopranos actress Edie Falco in The House of Blue Leaves, as a zookeeper whose musical ambitions are stymied by his mentally ill wife.

Jennifer Jason Leigh also stars in the revival of John Guare's play, which had its official opening night on Monday.

The production is scheduled to run at the Walter Kerr Theatre until 30 June.

Stiller, 45, had a supporting role in The House of Blue Leaves when it was staged in New York in 1986 alongside Frasier star John Mahoney in the lead role.

His mother Anne Meara also has ties to the 1966 play, having appeared in an off-Broadway production in 1971.

In the Hollywood Reporter, critic David Rooney said both he and Falco give "affecting performances " in what he described as an "unbalanced production".

Image caption Stiller (centre) made his stage debut in an earlier production of John Guare's play

The play "frequently sings" yet "cries out overall for a lighter touch" from director David Cromer, added Rooney.

In the New York Times, Ben Brantley praised Falco's "transfixing" portrayal of Bananas Shaughnessy, "a medicated madwoman longing to feel".

Stiller projects "an air of angry resignation that tells us he's going nowhere" in his role as her "no talent" husband Artie, adds the critic.

Variety's Marilyn Stasio suggested the actor may be too young for his role yet remains "excellently cast".

The star, she said, is "so personally appealing, so comically desperate and so oblivious to the absurdity of his ambitions that he makes the character almost likeable".

Best known for his comic roles in Zoolander, Tropic Thunder and There's Something about Mary, Stiller was seen last year in a more serious guise in comedy drama Greenberg.

Since The Sopranos ended in 2007, Falco has been seen in the medical drama Nurse Jackie, which gained her an Emmy award in 2010.

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