Nielsen rates as Darrow

Veteran actor Leslie Nielsen, known more recently for his comedic talent, gets a chance to show his dramatic side again as legendary defense lawyer Clarence Darrow.

Elliott Marks

Those of you who know Clarence Darrow only as a history book entry should go see “Clarence Darrow.”

Those of you who know Leslie Nielsen only as the comic star of the “Naked Gun” movies and “Airplane!” should definitely go see “Clarence Darrow.”

The one-man show, which makes a stop on its North American tour at Irvine Auditorium Oct. 24, takes the veteran actor back to his dramatic roots through his portrayal of the brilliant country lawyer who captured the nation’s attention in the 1925 Scopes trial.

The show has earned Nielsen fresh praise in his native Canada for his warm and witty portrayal of Darrow: the Vancouver Sun said that “Nielsen shines” in the role and Maclean’s magazine called the play a “powerful piece of stagecraft.”

The play is the second “University of Pennsylvania Presents” event to take place in the restored Irvine Auditorium, which officially reopens to the general public on Oct. 16 with a performance by flutist James Galway (see Saturday, Oct. 16).


  • “CLARENCE DARROW”: Sunday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. in Irvine Auditorium, 3401 Spruce St. Tickets $20, $25 and $35; discounts for seniors, groups, students, and Penn faculty, staff and alumni available. Tickets/info: visit or call 215-898-3900.

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Originally published on October 14, 1999