Los Angeles Times

Critic's Notebook: Star turns that serve the Broadway play — Elaine May, Daniel Radcliffe and Janet McTeer show how it's done

NEW YORK - When it comes to playwriting, Broadway has a supply problem. Although the new generation of American dramatists is blazingly talented, the great majority of these writers prefer the creative flexibility of more intimate stages.

New dramas that can fill Broadway's grand proscenium houses aren't rolling off the assembly line. But there's never any shortage of brilliant actors. And the right talent can sometimes turn the middling and the middlebrow into must-see theater.

On Broadway this fall, three respectable plays that pose no danger of becoming modern classics are given a boost by the marquee names drawing in the crowds. Celebrity casting isn't the secret of success. No one could describe Elaine May in "The Waverly Gallery," Daniel Radcliffe in "The Lifespan of a Fact" or Janet McTeer in "Bernhardt/Hamlet" as Hollywood carpetbaggers prestige-hunting between movie gigs.

Broadway needs the 86-year-old May, a sui generis legend, more than she needs Broadway. Radcliffe, his fortune made as the film face of Harry Potter, seems

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