Katie Holmes cruised through her Broadway debut on Thursday night despite anti-Scientology protesters in front of the theater and hubby Tom Cruise hamming it up in the audience.
Carrying signs that said "Scientology is a cult" and "How many more must die?" 20 protesters, many masked, chanted "Free Katie" outside the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. The actress gave her first preview performance there in Arthur Miller's "All My Sons."
"We aren't protesting Katie," said one demonstrator, who wouldn't give his name. "But Scientology is a cult and once you become a member you can't leave, and we've heard that Katie isn't able to leave because of Tom Cruise."
But those inside the packed theater couldn't have been more thrilled to see the "Mission: Impossible" star.
Hordes of fans swarmed Cruise in the aisle as he made his way to his seat. He graciously posed for pictures and shook hands, eliciting a standing ovation when he grabbed one woman and planted a kiss on her cheek.
"We love you, Tom," several members of the audience yelled.
The play started about 10 minutes late and the house was forced to dim the lights several times just to calm the flurry around Cruise.
"I'm very proud," the actor said of his wife before the curtain went up.
The rest of the night was about serious drama as Holmes held her own among Broadway veterans John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest and Patrick Wilson, who plays her love interest.
Holmes exuded the same lovable charm she did as Joey Potter on TV's "Dawson's Creek."
She shed the baggy T-shirts and jeans she has been sporting on the streets of New York for the past several months of rehearsals, revealing a rail-thin physique in '40s-style sundresses.
Audience members, many of whom bought tickets far in advance and traveled into the city especially for the show, agreed that Holmes gave a solid performance.
"It was a great play. I loved it and Katie was very good," said Robette Holland, 53, of New Jersey.
"She was extraordinary," Cruise said with pride following two standing ovations for the cast.