Lost and Lost-er

Jeff Daniels’ tenth play, Guest Artist, is something of a head-scratcher -- one that attempts to tackle deeper questions than you’d ordinarily expect from him. Don’t get us wrong -- he’s a fine actor and a great playwright. But you get the feeling he just doesn’t get the chance to wax philosophical in many of his movies – films like RV, Speed, 101 Dalmatians, 2 Days in the Valley, and (coming soon!) Space Chimps. Yes, Daniels mostly restricts his brooding, inner-self to his theatrical work. But did you know that Daniels actually considered melding elements of his (arguably) most successful film, Dumb and Dumber, into Guest Artist to make it appeal to a wider audience? We’ve uncovered some of Daniels’ “other” original ideas, and it’s shocking stuff. Take a look:

•Daniels originally wanted Guest Artist to be more of a buddy play, where the two characters travel to Aspen and get into all sorts of misadventures while contemplating the death of art. •Originally, the play’s main character, Joseph Harris, wanted to quit writing, not because he had lost his love for it, but because he wanted to run a pet store that sells worm farms, called “I Got Worms (And Deeply Philosophical Questions about the State of Humanity).” •A scene was cut where aspiring playwright Kenneth Waters tries to cheer Harris up by asking him if he wanted to hear the most annoying sound in the world: a monologue about the meaning of life. We like the version Daniels settled on much better. (And all right, we admit it. We just spoofin’.) The award-winning Guest Artist runs Friday at 8 p.m. at the Mosaic Theatre (12200 W. Broward Blvd., Plantation). Tickets cost $32. Call 954-577-8243, or visit www.mosaictheater.com.
Fri., Dec. 21, 2007

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John Linn