Why I’m producing It’s Only A Play on Broadway.

A bunch of years ago I looked into commissioning a playwright to write a backstage comedy about the business of Broadway.

More specifically,  I wanted this play set at a Broadway ad meeting . . . over the course of the production of a Broadway show.   So you’d meet all the crazy characters that it took to put on a show . . . from the Producers to the Investors to the Director to the Mad Men-like Ad Men and so on . . . starting from the first ad meeting and following them through to the first preview ad meeting and finally to the, gulp, day-after-0pening meeting when the reviews are in!

Fun, right?

Well, I never did find someone to write it, thank goodness, because I stumbled upon a much “funner” idea.

When I was talking about this idea of mine last fall, a former staffer of mine said, “Hey, Ken, have you ever read Terrence McNally’s It’s Only A Play?

She had me at Terrence McNally.

I ran to the Drama Book Shop to get a copy of the play (ok, that’s an exaggeration – I had an intern run to the Drama Book Shop but I paid her a bonus in the form of a Starbucks frappuccino for the extra hustle).

I was two pages in, and about twenty laughs in, when I realized that Terrence had already written the backstage comedy about the business of Broadway that I was looking for . . . but, well, he had a much better idea than mine (shocking!).  He set his at the opening night party (it’s an ad meeting . . . with booze!).

And this play was fuuuuuuuuuunny.

I reached out to Terrence and his Producer, Tom Kirdahy, and wouldn’t you know it, Terrence had already done a revised version with tons of brand new topical theatrical references (I won’t ruin the “skewering” surprises here but you’re gonna love ’em) . . . and they were just starting to talk about bringing it to Broadway.

I begged like a puppy dog in front of a basket of brisket to get on the show, and they obliged.

And the next thing you know, we’ve got Jack O’Brien directing, and it’s like a monster constellation there are so many stars:  F. Murray Abraham, Matthew Broderick, Stockard Channing, Nathan Lane, Megan Mullally and a couple more that we can’t even talk about yet.

(Oh – it also stars this terrific newcomer named Micah Stock who I saw in McNally’s And Away We Go at The Pearl.  Interesting fact – Micah is the only actor in the show with an active Twitter account.  He currently has 165 followers.  Anyone want to take bets on how many he has by closing night?  🙂  Follow him here.)

News about the show started to leak out a few weeks ago, and on Monday night, Megan Mullally mentioned her involvement on Seth Meyers (see the interview here).

But we’re officially announcing today, and officially putting tickets on sale (American Express cardholders and group sales only for a couple of weeks).  You can get ’em here.

And, well, I know this sounds like marketing-speak, but you should get ’em fast.  They’re going to go.  We’ve only got 18 weeks, and how many times in your lifetime do you think you’re going to get an opportunity to see a cast like this, doing a comedy like this?

And that brings me to the ultimate reason why I’m producing it.

I produce stuff I want to see.  Badly.  Stuff that I’d pay premium tickets for.

And boy oh boy would I be at the first preview for this one.

And then I’d come back halfway through the run to see what shenanigans these comedians have come up with.

See you there!

 

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Comments
  • R.J. Lowe says:

    I would give ANYTHING to be in this show, even as an understudy! It is one of my ALL time favorite non-musicals and the role Nathan is set to play is one of my all time dream roles. Never thought I’d ever see this produced in my life-time. SO excited!!!
    (C’mon I’d be brilliant as Lane’s stand-by!!!)

  • Cynthia DeVies says:

    Ken,
    I really can’t believe the amount of money I just spent for two tickets, but I’m thrilled that Ron and I will be on Row A with an aisle seat on Halloween evening. Maybe a pre-show costume contest is in the planning stages…HA?
    Cynthia DeVies…Dallas

  • senorvoce says:

    Better to produce stuff other folks want to pay premium prices for. But I get your drift.

    Are the discounts ready to go?

  • Dan K says:

    I can’t wait to see this! I’ve been a fan of this play ever since I first saw it in Philly in the 70’s when it tried out as BROADWAY, BROADWAY (with Geraldine Page and James Coco.) It is a very funny script.

  • Oh, Ken, fanfuckintastic!

  • Michael Edan says:

    Very funny play, read it maybe 15 years ago. Smart move to revive it, and updated script even better. Cast look excellent. I hope to see it. Suggestion #1 Have a contest with your email recipients to write their funniest opening night story for two free tickets to the show. Suggestion #2: Sounds like you’re a comedy guy, which is fine, and another play to consider reviving is the mystery drama ‘Child’s Play’. Was on Broadway during the 70’s I believe. I gave this suggestion before. Like the old Life cereal ad “Read it . . . you’ll like it.” Question that I would like to see addressed. Why is it so many straight plays these days are ‘limited runs’. One reason I get is because of name performers [many who do movies] have booked schedules, another might be the soaring cost of mounting plays on Broadway. But I remember when moving to New York in the late 70’s plays were running for over a year, some for three. Those days are obviously long gone.

  • Douglas Braverman says:

    Hi Ken,

    I saw the original production of IT’S ONLY A PLAY many years ago, starring James Coco, Paul Benedict, and Christine Baranski. I remember it was hysterically funny, and I was amazed at the time that it was not transferred to Broadway. I’m happy it is finally making the transfer after all these years, and I’m sure you’ll have a big success because it was one of the funniest comedies I’ve ever seen.

  • Glad to hear your vision met Terrence’s play. Sounds promising and wishing all involved a big success!

  • David Merrick Jr says:

    Saw it in LA eons ago with the late, great Charles Nelson Reilly! Not a great play, but a funny one sure to be elevated by that great cast!

    Ken, you will be getting my $100,000 check later this afternoon…

  • I’m impressed, I have to admit. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s both educative
    and engaging, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head.
    The issue is something which too few people are speaking intelligently about.
    Now i’m very happy I stumbled across this during my hunt for something relating to this.

  • I’m on the website with Joan. I’m too old to need my own website. There was a small article about “It’s Only A Play” in the Fort Worth, TX paper this morning. (That’s great because they usually allow only about an inch once a week to live theater beyond just the listings
    .) WHAT A CAST! And they’ve all got television cred as well as theater fame – which means that additional audience draw.

  • Ellen Orchid says:

    Can’t wait to see this play; heck, can I understudy Megan Mullaly? I’m really funny! (See for yourself at http://www.EllenOrchid.com (click on Media).
    Good luck Ken. This sure feels like a winner!
    Have fun at the Tony’s tomorrow! Wish I could go!

  • ECP says:

    Pleased to learn Rupert Grint has joined the stellar cast. Those “Potter” kids maturing into appealing talents. He really surprised me in a quirky-fun, little-seen movie from the UK. Damn, what was it–“Hard Target?” He held his own against the formidable Emily Blunt and Bill Nighy nicely.

  • Just read the ’86 version and found that that hysterical and can’t wait to see the up-to-date version! That is one stellar cast so I can’t see it being anything other than a smash.

  • Max Sedacca says:

    Hi,
    Will the updated script ever be made available to the public? Or will they only keep selling the old version. I would love to be able to get this new version.
    Thanks.
    Max

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