But the new Broadway play featuring the two hot stars? Not so much

By Michael Y. Park
Updated September 30, 2009 08:30 AM
Credit: Jemal Countess/Getty

The applause you’re hearing on the Great White Way is for the way Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig handled an obnoxious cell-phone user in the middle of their sold-out play, A Steady Rain – now one of the hottest tickets on Broadway.

But the clapping for the play itself isn’t nearly as passionate.

“It all comes across like an elongated pitch meeting for an over caffeinated buddy-cop movie that might be directed by Sidney Lumet or Martin Scorsese,” writes Reuters critic Frank Scheck. The play, in which the pair play cops in love with the same woman, has broken the Broadway record for the highest weekly gross of a non-musical production, making $1,167,954 in its opening week. It is slated to run until Dec. 6 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater.

“You can feel the audience yearning to embrace Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig and the troubled cops they play. Sorry, folks. That would be tougher than giving Wolverine a manicure or asking 007 to commit,” writes New York Daily News critic Joe Dziemianowicz, who gives the play three out of five stars. “Chicago writer Keith Huff’s play is a stark and modest work that’s all talk and no action. It keeps you at arm’s length.”

Not that the lukewarm reviews have kept away the crowds, or Jackman and Craig, both 40, from receiving kudos for their effort and charisma. But the stars – the actor kind, not the good-review kind – are the only thing Steady Rain has going for it, the critics agree.

“It’s hard to avoid thinking that had they chosen to recite the alphabet in counterpoint (which might have been more fun), their joint appearance would still generate ticket sales unknown for a straight play since Julia Roberts appeared in Richard Greenberg s Three Days of Rain,” writes Ben Brantley of The New York Times, referring to Roberts’s 2006 Broadway debut, which similarly sold out despite mediocre reviews.

The one thing almost universally lauded about A Steady Rain: Craig and Jackman berating an audience member in character when his cell phone went off – twice! – in the middle of intense scenes last week. A YouTube video of the stage smackdown has been extremely popular online.