Published Thursday, 17 April 2014
The stage adaptation of the 1937 novel, starring Franco and O'Dowd with Gossip Girl actress Leighton Meester, opened at the Longacre Theatre in New York City on Wednesday night, and garnered stellar write-ups.
David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter called the production "gripping, grounded and emotionally penetrating" and hailed O'Dowd as the star of the show for his "tremendous" performance.
Rooney described Franco as "not quite a natural onstage" but insisted he had "beautiful chemistry with O'Dowd".
Variety's Marilyn Stasio was full of praise for director Anna D. Shapiro and the whole cast, writing: "(Shapiro) turns in an impeccably mounted production without a single blemish. The ensemble acting is flawless. The design work is breathtaking... There's no way to overpraise the nine men and one woman (Leighton Meester, holding her own nicely...) in this ensemble who bring Steinbeck's characters to life."
Elysa Gardner of USA Today branded the show a "vivid, sensitive performance of the piece" with an "an excellent cast", while Entertainment Weekly's Thom Geier also reserved the best praise for O'Dowd, calling his performance "riveting" and adding: "The real surprise in Anna D. Shapiro's finely staged production is Chris O'Dowd... The gifted comedic actor brings a studied and skillful physicality to (the role of Lenny)... O'Dowd makes Lenny sympathetic without ever stooping to caricature."
The production marks the Broadway debut for all three of the top-lining actors.