By Diana Saenger
Let’s Review!Anyone fortunate enough to see the movie “Quartet,” (2012) directed by Dustin Hoffman and nominated for several awards including a Golden Globe for actress Maggie Smith, knows the charm of this story. Now, Ronald Harwood’s comedy is playing at the Old Globe through Aug. 24, under the direction of Richard Seer (“Other Desert Cities,” “God of Carnage,” and “The Last Romance”).
Harwood received an Academy Award for his screenplay “The Pianist,” and was nominated for “The Diving Bell and The Butterfly” and “The Dresser,” a hit on Broadway and the West End.
Although not as broad as the film, the plot is the same. When professional musicians and singers (with little financial savings) face retirement, they wind up at a home for retired musicians. That’s where three former opera singers eventually find themselves.
Although Reginald (Robert Foxworth, “August: Osage County” and “Twelve Angry Men”), Cecily (Jill Tanner, Broadway’s “Dividing the Estate,” and “Enchanted April”), and Wilfred (Roger Forbes, “Woman In Black,” and “Boys in Autumn”), have different personalities, they’ve managed to create a congenial life at the home.
Reginald seems the most at ease here. At least, if he’s left alone with quiet time to read and reflect. However, that can’t happen when Cecily and Wilfred are around.
Cecily is a springy, unpredictable lady. At times it’s unclear she knows where she’s at or what she’s doing. Other times she seems fine and fond of both of her friends.
Wilfred is a bit naughty, always coming on to Cecily. She ignores him, but Reginald is outraged, telling Wilfred again and again that he’s out of order.
In quieter moments when they’re not talking about music, they get a chance to catch up on each other’s lives. They all knew each other in their professional careers and some, their personal lives. When Wilfred brings up the subject of Reginald’s ex-wife, Jean (Elizabeth Franz, Tony Award for “Death of a Salesman,” and “Brighton Beach Memoirs”), Reginald is outraged and doesn’t want to talk about her.
Only a short while later does Reginald learn that a new guest is coming to their home and … it’s Jean. She tries to make amends for hurting Reginald, but he wants nothing from her. Meanwhile, the three opera singers have been preparing for their yearly production of Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” the proceeds of which support their life at the home.
In earlier days Jean was the grande dame who lead the production. As Wilfred and Cecily try to convince Jean to be part of the production, Reginald objects, and Jean refuses. It’s worth a ticket to see how this ends.
IF YOU GO:“Quartet” plays through Aug. 24 at The Old Globe Theatre’s Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre, 1363 Old Globe Way in Balboa Park, San Diego. Tickets from $29 at (619) 234-5623 or TheOldGlobe.org