Jonathan Groff, left, with "Red" playwright John Logan and… ( Ryan Miller / Capture Imaging )
Following Sunday’s opening night performance of “Red” at the Mark Taper Forum, theatergoers merely had to stroll down Grand Avenue to see eight Mark Rothko paintings at the Museum of Contemporary Art, where the after-party took place.
The play is about the artist; the paintings are part of MOCA's permanent collection.
The L.A. opening of the Tony Award-winning play, starring Alfred Molina and Jonathan Groff, was packed with celebrities, among them Leonard Nimoy, the artist, art collector and original Mr. Spock of TV’s “Star Trek,” and Zachary Quinto, Mr. Spock of the 2009 and 2013 film versions. Quinto, there to support Groff, his boyfriend, brought along fellow cast members from another project in which he appears, Showtime's “American Horror Story.” With him were Sarah Paulson, Jessica Lange and Lily Rabe.
Theatergoers also included Ed Begley Jr., of “St. Elsewhere,” Jesse Tyler Ferguson of “Modern Family,” Thomas Sadoski of “The Newsroom,” Michael Urie of “Ugly Betty,” Julie White of “Transformers” and “Golden Girl” Betty White.
After having seen the play, most came for an up-close look at the paintings.
In MOCA’s courtyard, where a buffet also awaited guests, playwright John Logan said he began working on the play seven years ago. Back then, Rothko paintings were already selling in multimillion-dollar range. In May, however, Rothko’s "Orange, Red, Yellow" broke records for contemporary art sales at auction by fetching nearly $87 million at a Christie’s.
“They were too expensive for me then; they’re too expensive for me now,” joked Logan, who said he wrote the play after seeing Rothko’s paintings in the Tate Modern in London.
He said he made a few changes since the play first opened at the Donmar Warehouse in London and then had its Tony-winning Broadway run with Molina. The play is also different, he said, because “the cast is 50% different.”
Groff is the newcomer to his role as the artist’s assistant, although no first-timer on stage. Aside from playing Jesse St. James in TV’s “Glee,” Groff starred in “Spring Awakening” and captured a Tony Award nomination.
Arriving at the party, Groff had nothing but praise for Molina, who plays the artist during the time he is painting murals for the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York’s Seagram Building.
“He’s a dream to work with,” Groff said.
During the run of the play, MOCA and the Center Theatre Group have teamed to offer discounted museum admissions to theatergoers and discounted theater tickets for MOCA members. The play continues through Sept. 9.
Read theater critic Charles McNulty's review of "Red."
Mark Rothko painting sells for $87 million at auction
The artists of 'Red' dig around in Mark Rothko's mind
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