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Julia Roberts fails to enthrall on Broadway show

The actor's Broadway venture fails to convince critics who dub her performance as modest, flat and lacklustre.

india Updated: Apr 24, 2006 16:43 IST
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Julia Roberts is Hollywood's ultimate pretty woman but her first venture into Broadway failed to convince the critics whose verdict was "modest," "flat" and "lacklustre." Hundreds of fans gathered outside the theatre for Wednesday's opening night of Three Days of Rain/.

Stars who turned up for the hottest ticket on Broadway included Oprah Winfrey, Tim Robbins and mayor Michael Bloomberg. The play is the first professional stage role for the Oscar-winning Roberts, 38.

She reportedlyremains Hollywood's highest-paid actress, commanding $20 million a film.

"For the record, Roberts does not deliver a train wreck of a performance," the Toronto Star said in a review on Thursday headlined Pretty Woman pretty flat. It said she failed to bring her screen charisma to the stage.

"Her face, so luminous on screen, barely registers onstage," the review said.

New York Times critic Ben Brantley, whose reviews can make or break a play, confessed to be a "Juliaholic" and said he was nervous on entering the theatre "as if a relative or a close friend were about to do something foolish in public". "Your heart goes out to her when she makes her entrance in the first act and freezes with the unyielding stiffness of an industrial lamppost," Brantley wrote.

Richard Greenberg's play is a drama about a brother and sister who meet up with a childhood friend for the reading of a will. Roberts plays Nan in the first act and then her mother in the second, which takes place a generation earlier.

"She's stiff with self-consciousness (especially in the first act), only glancingly acquainted with the two characters she plays and so deeply, disturbingly beautiful that you don't want to let her out of your sight," Brantley wrote. "On the few occasions when she smiles, it's with a sunniness that could dispel even 40 days and 40 nights of rain," he added.

USA Today critic Elysa Gardner was more generous, saying the two roles played to a Broadway newcomer's strengths and potential weaknesses.

"In the end, Roberts makes both women credible, compelling and sweetly funny," Gardner wrote. New York tabloid Newsday's critic Linda Winer was also a fan, saying: "Julia Roberts gives a lean, intelligent, altogether honourable performance."

But good reviews were in the minority. The Boston Globe said the play was a lacklustre "One hundred and fifty minutes of tedium".

First Published: Apr 24, 2006 16:43 IST