Theater review: “Seminar” starring Alan Rickman

Class. Is. Over,” he said with sharp pauses between words, in the deep, tight-jawed, monotone voice that could only belong to Alan Rickman; a spot-on impression by co-star Jerry O’Connell as he walks out from backstage after receiving a standing ovation for Seminar‘s preview performance.

I could understudy for him,” O’Connell jests. “I’d put a couple gray streaks in my hair, it’d be so much fun.”

Seminar stars veteran stage actor Alan Rickman as Leonard, an international literary figure who teaches a private writing class to four aspiring novelists. The young writers pour their soul into their work, only to hand it over to Leonard, who with crushing disdain, does not hold back one bitter word of his seething criticism, or read past their first semicolon.

This new fast-paced comedy from Pulitzer Prize nominee Theresa Rebeck, directed by Obie Award winner Sam Gold, recently finished its preview run and officially opened on Broadway on November 20. Starring alongside Rickman is O’Connell, Hamish Linklater, Lily Rabe, and Hettienne Park.

The play is so amazing,” O’Connell told MuggleNet.

A lot of the time as an actor, you are brought into projects where the product is inferior and you are hired in the hopes that you will elevate it. This is a case where there is no need to elevate anything. It’s there, it’s already on the page. This girl can write.

Seminar marks O’Connell’s first appearance on Broadway, and he lauded Rickman for guiding him during the rehearsal process.

I can’t say enough nice things about Alan Rickman,”O’Connell said.

He’s really helped me in a my Broadway debut, not that I was nervous, but I’m a little green about which way upstage is…kidding. Do you know how much that would cost if you paid for that kind of private tutoring?” he added.

O’Connell also joked about his time spent offstage with Rickman.

He’s a tricky little bugger,” O’Connell said in a mock British accent. “If you go out with him, he always pays and it’s annoying because you want to pay your fair share. We’re all Broadway actors, though maybe we don’t have large sums of Harry Potter money in our pocket.

I’m getting craftier than he is,” O’Connell continued.

I will go to the restaurant and give them my credit card before hand and say ‘You can’t let him pay for this.’

O’Connell also said that he is continually captivated by Rickman’s performance, particularly towards the end of the play during the pinnacle of Leonard’s character arc.

Just watching him live, I just get lost in him every night. When he does his monologue, I’ve seen that monologue 60, 70, 80 times now. And still…thank God I don’t have any lines in that scene because I would just blank out,” O’Connell said.

O’Connell praised the language of the play, saying that Rebeck’s writing is as fun to memorize as it is to perform. “If you are a writer, Seminar is a must-see,” he said. After his positive experience working with Rickman, Rebeck, and Gold, O’Connell hopes to do more live theater and continue to grow as an individual.

I’m a better actor because of this, I’m a better person because of this. This has been the most professionally fulfilling experience of my life.

Guest blogger is Laura Reilly, MuggleNet video editor