GREAT PERFORMANCES: Noël Coward’s Present Laughter

Airs Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017 at Noon on KPBS TV

Thursday, October 26, 2017
By Jennifer Robinson
Credit: Courtesy of © Joan Marcus
Above: Kate Burton and Kevin Kline in Broadway's “Present Laughter.”

Tony Award-Winning Kevin Kline in "Noël Coward's Present Laughter" on GREAT PERFORMANCES Continuing PBS's Broadway's Best Lineup

Kevin Kline's Tony Award®-winning performance in “Noël Coward's Present Laughter,” first produced in 1942 with Coward himself in the leading role, comes to KPBS TV.

“Noël Coward's Present Laughter” follows a self-obsessed actor in the midst of a mid-life crisis. Juggling his considerable talent, ego and libido, the theater's favorite leading man suddenly finds himself caught between fawning ingénues, crazed playwrights, secret trysts and unexpected twists.

This broadcast joins “She Loves Me” (October 20 on KPBS 2), and “Indecent” (November 17 on KPBS 2), and “Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn” (November 24 on KPBS 2) as part of PBS's Broadway's best lineup.

Also airing as part of the Broadway festival are GREAT PERFORMANCES encore presentations of “In the Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams” (November 10 on KPBS 2) and “Hamilton's America” (December 1 on KPBS 2), up-close looks at the making of Lin-Manuel Miranda's Broadway hits, “In the Heights” and “Hamilton” respectively.

Critics unanimously raved about Kline in this revival:

David Rooney in The Hollywood Reporter enthused, “Talk about a match made in heaven. Kevin Kline was born to do Noel Coward, and his casting as Garry Essendine, the 1930s stage star and aging playboy at the center of his own eternal melodrama in 'Present Laughter,' yields a performance of unimpeachable skill, made all the more delectable by its lightness of touch.”

The performance earned Kline the best actor honors at the 2017 Tony Awards, Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk Awards.

The cast is also headed by three-time Tony® and Emmy® Award nominee Kate Burton (SCANDAL, GREY’S ANATOMY), Tony Award® nominee Kristine Nielsen ("Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike"), and Cobie Smulders (HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER"Jack Reacher: Never Go Back") in the Broadway debut which earned her the Theatre World Award for Outstanding Broadway Debut.

Stage direction is by Tony Award® nominee Moritz von Stuelpnagel ("Hand to God").

The ensemble of “Noël Coward's Present Laughter” includes Matt Bittner, Ellen Harvey, Peter Francis James, Tedra Millan, Bhavesh Patel, Reg Rogers and Sandra Shipley, with Kelley Curran, Rachel Pickup, James Riordan, and David L. Townsend.


This full episode will be available to stream on demand for a limited time after broadcast.


GREAT PERFORMANCES is on Facebook, and you can follow @GPerfPBS on Twitter. #BroadwayonPBS


Produced on stage by Jordan Roth, Jujamcyn Theaters; Spencer Ross, A.C. Orange International, Eric Falkenstein, Grove Entertainment, Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman, Stephanie P. McClelland, Harbor Entertainment, Joe Everett Michaels / Robert F. Ryan, Daryl Roth.

The creative team features set design by Tony Award® winner David Zinn, costume design by Tony Award® winner Susan Hilferty, lighting design by two-time Tony Award® nominee Justin Townsend, sound design by Fitz Patton, and hair design by Josh Marquette. Casting by Telsey + Company.

For BroadwayHD, this performance of “Present Laughter” is produced by Stewart F Lane; Jordan Roth, Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley are executive producers.

GREAT PERFORMANCES is produced by THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers. For GREAT PERFORMANCES, Mitch Owgang is producer; Bill O’Donnell is series producer; David Horn is executive producer.