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Laurence Fishburne opens in 'Thurgood' at the Geffen Playhouse

July 8, 2010 |  1:31 pm

JBS_6243[1] Laurence Fishburne has earned plenty of applause and a Drama Desk Award for his bravura turn as the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall since his Broadway debut in "Thurgood" more than two years ago. But on Wednesday, he won the seal of approval from a true master -- Sidney Poitier.

Poitier caught Fishburne's performance at opening night for "Thurgood's" limited run at the Geffen Playhouse, and it's about a subject he knows well -- the veteran actor was nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his own performance as the former NAACP lawyer in "Separate But Equal," a 1991 TV film about the landmark school desegregation case Brown vs. Board of Education.

Poitier's verdict? "Exquisite, absolutely exquisite …. I got to know Mr. Thurgood Marshall because I was about to play him, so I had to learn about him. I saw tonight some of the real substantive characteristics of the Thurgood Marshall that I got to know."

Poitier, who was accompanied by his daughter, actress Sydney Tamiia Poitier, said he had been following Fishburne's career for "a long time. I'm considerably older than he, so I've been watching him since he was a baby actor. I saw him in ‘Fences' and other things, and I don't see him as being on a stage -- I see him as being right next to me as I'm watching, as if I know him from the inside."

After the show, Fishburne changed into a Chinese silk robe and celebrated at a reception with his wife, actress Gina Torres (who appeared with him in two "Matrix" films), playwright George Stevens Jr., director Leonard Foglia and many more.

-- Irene Lacher

Photo: Sidney Poitier, left, and Laurence Fishburne at the Geffen Playhouse party for "Thurgood." Credit: Jordan Strauss.

Related dispatch from our friends at Culture Monster:

Theater review: 'Thurgood' at the Geffen Playhouse