Denzel Washington returns to Broadway in 'The Iceman Cometh'

NEW YORK CITY -- The Iceman Cometh has been called "the greatest American play" by "the greatest American playwright," and the new production of the Eugene O'Neill play opens on Broadway Thursday and stars one of the greatest American actors.

Denzel Washington appeared on the Great White Way in 2010, starring in "Fences" with Viola Davis as both stars won Tony Awards. He also appeared in "A Raisin in the Sun" in 2014. So what keeps drawing Denzel back to the stage?

"An audience," he said. "The last part of any play, the most important part, is the audience. So each night, it's different. Each night, it's a different play because of the audience."

We met in a bar at Delmonico's restaurant downtown, an appropriate setting given the play is set in a New York City bar early in the last century.

In The Iceman Cometh, Washington plays Hickey, a salesman who has returned to a bar he once frequented to visit with his old pals and boast about his accomplishments. His gift of gab is obvious and plays to the star's strengths.

"I'm a guy who's been known to talk a lot," he said. "So I guess it is good fit, a natural fit."

Hickey is what folks used to call a "hail fellow well met," but he has a dark secret that becomes apparent slowly over the course of more than three hours. The production reunites the star with David Morse three decades after they appeared together on TV In "St. Elsewhere."

Time has only increased their respect for each other.

"(Denzel is) a great combination of a really skilled actor and a life force, and that's a great combination because it brings you to life to be with someone like that," Morse said, "And Denzel definitely brings us to life."

The large cast will be together for just 14 weeks, but that's more than enough time to qualify for this year's Tony Awards. And expect Denzel Washington to be among the nominees when they are revealed Tuesday morning.

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