The one-night-only performance at The Wallis in Beverly Hills sold out in 48 hours. Oscar, Emmy and Tony award-winning actor Al Pacino was taking the stage to reprise his role in the David Rabe Vietnam war drama “The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel.” Pacino won a Best Actor Tony Award for the original Broadway production in 1977. For this collaboration on March 8, the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles (SCLA) and The Wallis joined forces to benefit the SCLA Veterans in Art program and NAVSO (National Association of Veteran Serving Organizations.) VIA is a nonprofit employment and stagecraft training program for veterans that places graduates with entertainment production companies throughout the greater L.A. area.
At the VIP post-performance reception at Porta Via on Canon, Pacino posed for photographs with special guests and veterans. Tim Farrell, CEO, National Association of Veteran-Serving Organizations, and Ben Donenberg, Artistic Director, The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles and Paul Crewes, Artistic Director of The Wallis were also in attendance.
It might have only lasted a few hours, but Crewes spent 18 months discussing the project with Pacino. “He wanted a home in L.A. where he could play and just do his theatre,” Crewes told the Courier. “He came to me with this particular project but I was cool with whatever he wanted to do.”
Pacino, who has been known to revisit projects, likes to keep working on the material and try things differently. “He knows the play but wants to find out more about it because he’s still digging into it,” said Crewes.
Pacino even came to the board meeting for The Wallis to lend support. “He kept saying to me, how can I help?” said Crewes. “He’s amazingly astute and has so much energy.”
Scheduling could be the only pitfall concerning future productions with the actor. If Pacino gets his wish, “The Merchant of Venice” could be next up on the agenda, and the artistic community can only hope for a longer run.
“For us, it’s not about the event, but a guy who lives across the road and is one of our neighbors,” added Crewes. “This is his home and he wants this theatre to be his artistic home.”