The Godfather star tackles the role of Shylock opposite actress Lily Rabe in the Shakespeare play.
The show officially launched at New York's Broadhurst Theatre earlier this month (Nov10) but the press opening was postponed until Saturday (13Nov10), after Rabe was forced to take a leave of absence following the death of her actress mother, Jill Clayburgh, days before the scheduled date.
But the delay has not affected the pair's chemistry on stage and critics have given The Merchant of Venice top marks.
The New York Times' Ben Brantley writes, "Giving what promises to be the performances of this season, Lily Rabe, as Portia the heiress, and Al Pacino, as Shylock the usurer, invest the much-parsed trial scene of this fascinating, irksome work with a passion and an anger that purge it of preconceptions."
He adds the play "feels utterly fluid and original."
The Wall Street Journal hails Pacino as "a galvanic Shylock", while the New York Post congratulates director Daniel Sullivan for producing a "fast-paced, engaging, accessible" play.
And the New York Daily News critic Joe Dziemianowicz admits he is in awe of Pacino: "He's an actor known for big whoo-ha-sized portraits, but Pacino is a study in control on stage. He makes his shaggy Shylock dynamic and believable. He's slightly eccentric, always compelling, right down to deliberate a singsongy cadence that seems intended to irritate."
It's the second time Pacino has wowed theatre critics this year (10) - he led the cast in a production of The Merchant of Venice in New York's Central Park this summer (10).
"I heard that Portia de Rossi might be doing Dancing with the Stars... She hasn't told me if she's doing it or not. Maybe." Comedienne ELLEN DeGENERES has no idea if her actress wife is set to show off her fancy footwork in the next season of the hit U.S. TV show.
Rabe, who plays wealthy Portia in the Shakespeare play, has been forced to pull out of several performances at the Broadhurst Theatre this week (begs01Nov10) due to an unspecified personal reason. She is expected to miss more shows, reports Playbill.com.
The official press opening was originally scheduled for Sunday (07Nov10) but it has now been delayed to ensure critics are able to review the whole cast.
The new press opening has yet to be confirmed.
It has been estimated that Pacino, who is tackling the role of Shylock, has helped draw in $1 million (£666,670) a week in box office takings since previews began in October (10).
The former Ally McBeal stars talks about her battle with anorexia in new memoir Unbearable Lightness and she fears she would be really ill or even dead if her brother hadn't voiced his opinion about the star's drastic weightloss.
De Rossi fears too many people worry that they'll be "shut out" or even disowned if they approach an anorexic about their concerns - but she insists it's the best thing you can do.
In a taped interview for her wife Ellen DeGeneres' TV talk show, the actress explains, "A lot of people don't say anything at all because they are worried that that person is just going to completely shut them out of their lives and that actually may happen.
"But it is really important to say something. And the thing that you should say... the thing that I would have responded to was, 'You look sick. You don't look well. You look like you're suffering' - because the anorexic wants to be admired.
"Dieting is really hard and, to get down to that weight, you want people to admire you... 'You're too thin' to me was more of a compliment. Who can be too thin? There is a joke about it. You can't ever be too thin. So that just felt like a compliment.
"Anything that would suggest that a girl is not as in control as she wants to appear to be is a better thing. Because an anorexic wants control more than anything."
The interview will air in America on Thursday (04Nov10).
"I love her and I am very proud to be her wife. I made up my name because I thought it was important to be independent of my family and... be an individual... As I have gotten older, I've realised the importance of belonging, and I really wanted to be a part of Ellen's family... By taking her name, (it) makes me feel like I have a family." Actress PORTIA DE ROSSI on her decision to legally change her name to Portia Lee James DeGeneres. She'll retain her stage name professionally.
The actress, who is married to Ellen DeGeneres, has opened up about her battle with anorexia in her new book Unbearable Lightness - and she fought back tears as she talked frankly about her lowest period during a recent taped interview with Oprah Winfrey.
In the tearful chat, which will air in America on Monday (01Nov10), the Australia-born star reveals she once weighed just 82 pounds (37.1 kilograms).
She says, "It wasn't that I was proud of it, but it was certainly a recognition for my self-control. I definitely had some pretty amazing willpower to get down to 82 pounds. And that's what I was holding onto to. I didn't think about anything else."
The Aussie actress, who was born Amanda Lee Rogers, adopted the name Portia de Rossi when she first became a model - years before arriving in Hollywood.
A Los Angeles judge granted the actress official permission to change her name in court on Thursday (23Sep10).
She'll now be known as Portia Lee James DeGeneres.
The actress married comedienne-turned-TV personality Ellen DeGeneres in 2008.
The couple wed in a same sex ceremony in 2008 when gay marriage was legalised in the state of California.
The Aussie actress lodged the name change petition in Los Angeles County Superior Court last Friday (06Aug10), asking to be formally known as Portia DeGeneres.
A judge is expected to approve the request as such petitions are routinely granted, reports TMZ.com.
Same sex marriage was outlawed in California just months after its legalisation by the Proposition 8 bill.
However, in a landmark ruling last week (04Aug10), a U.S. judge branded Proposition 8 "unconstitutional", paving the way for gay unions to be made legal once more.
"She'll say, 'I think you could gain 10 more pounds.' She would rather have me heavier than thinner, and she really hates that I ever doubt myself. She loves how I look. She wants me to be happy and never think about it." Comedienne ELLEN DEGENERES enjoys staying fit for her actress wife PORTIA DE ROSSI.
The star, who is married to actress Portia de Rossi, claimed the top spot in Out's annual Power 50 rundown.
Singer Adam Lambert and How I Met Your Mother star Neil Patrick Harris featured in the top ten, claiming fifth and seventh place respectively.
Fashion designers Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford were also high in the rundown - at 11 and 13.
Moviemaker Lee Daniels was at 25, while comedienne Wanda Sykes featured at 36. Jodie Foster was placed 41st and Milk director Gus Van Sant came in at 43.