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Under-40 stars hitting Broadway

  • FILE - In this Aug. 31, 2013 file photo, actor and director James Franco poses for photographers on the red carpet for the screening of the film "Child Of God" at the 70th edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy. Franco stars on Broadway in "Of Mice and Men," John Steinbeck's play adapted from his own classic novel. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)

NEW YORK — This Tony season, an unprecedented number of movie and Hollywood stars under 40 are hitting Broadway for the first time.

"Scrubs'" Zach Braff just made his debut in Susan Stroman's staging of Woody Allen 's comedy-musical "Bullets Over Broadway." Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee Michelle Williams is trying out her singing talents — and a British accent — as Sally Bowles in the Roundabout's sort-of revival of "Cabaret."

But nothing epitomizes this influx more than the trio of Broadway rookies bringing a burst of star power — and their fan followings on social media — to Tony-winner Anna D. Shapiro's staging of the John Steinbeck classic "Of Mice and Men" about Depression-era migrant workers in California.

The show, which hasn't been seen on Broadway in four decades, opens Wednesday at the Longacre Theatre with James Franco (1.9 million Twitter followers) as the hustling George Milton, Leighton Meester (1.4 million followers) in the ing?ue role of the wife of the boss' son Curly, and a padded-out Chris O'Dowd (with a comparatively measly half a million followers) as the slow-witted giant Lennie Small.

"I'm a Luddite so I don't really know what Twitter or Instagram is, except that young people do it," said Shapiro, who actually has experience with youth-skewing shows, having directed "The Mother... With the Hat" starring Chris Rock three years ago, as well as the more traditional "August: Osage County."


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