A gaggle of reporters lined the red carpet while about 100 stargazers watched from the sidewalk, which was patrolled by at least 30 police officers.
As it did on the first night of previews, the group Anonymous again protested against Scientology, because Holmes is wed to its biggest icon, Tom Cruise. About 35 protesters carried signs reading "Run, Katie, Run" and chanted "Scientology kills" from a cordoned-off area down the block from the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater.
Joni Vitale and husband George drove up from Pomona, N.J. for three reasons: "Tom, Tom and Tom." But they were disappointed as there was no sign of Cruise, who attended the first preview and cheerfully called the production "extraordinary."
Among the celebrities strolling the red carpet: Patricia Clarkson (who played Holmes' mother in the 2003 film "Pieces of April"), Barbara Walters, Dennis Farina and Isabella Rossellini.
Rebecca Miller, the playwright's daughter, came to see the latest version of her father's play, which was first performed on Broadway in 1947.
"The thing about Katie Holmes is that she's so right for the part," said Miller, a filmmaker and wife of Academy Award-winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis.
Hollywood stars such as Julia Roberts and Sean Combs have in recent years tried their talents on the New York stage and brought huge buzz to their productions. Holmes' Broadway entree was no different; "All My Sons" was the highest-grossing play on Broadway in its first full week of previews, taking in $684,002.
Still, Holmes simply is a supporting player in the drama. "All My Sons" is about businessman Joe Keller, played by John Lithgow, whose factory supplied defective cylinder parts to the military, resulting in the deaths of 21 pilots during World War II. Diane Wiest plays Keller's wife; Patrick Wilson his idealistic son; and Holmes the son's fiancee and daughter of Keller's disgraced partner.
For theatergoer Marra Gad, the play was the thing -- and a performer besides Holmes.
"I realize that people are really excited about Katie Holmes making her debut and obviously the stargazing that's going on, but Patrick Wilson is a remarkable actor and I'm thrilled to see him on stage again," said Gad. "I love theater, so I'm excited to see a show like `All My Sons' brought back to Broadway."
Producer Eric Falkenstein said the play is "ultra-relevant" considering the Iraq War, and praised Holmes and the cast.
"She was never difficult, always interested," said Falkenstein.
Referring to the media attention brought on by her celebrity, he added, "She handles it so well. The other cast members handle it so well."
Of course, the protesters had a different perspective. The mostly young demonstrators, many wearing masks like those in the film "V for Vendetta," said they wanted to save Holmes from Scientology. Anonymous is a group connected by the Web that protests monthly outside Scientology buildings.
"We're here to just protest Scientology in general," said 22-year-old Alex Vanino. "But our main focus right now is getting Katie out of Scientology. There's been news going around the tabloids saying she would like to get out. It's unverified, but it would be nice to encourage that."
Vanino said they wouldn't likely return to the theater for further protests.
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