Tickets are going fast to Terrence McNally’s super-star studded Broadway comedy It’s Only A Play. Headliners include Tony winners Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick and Stockard Channing, Emmy winner Megan Mullally, Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham, Harry Potter’s Rupert Grint and adorable newcomer Micah Stock; so it doesn’t really matter what the play is about, people are going to go see this these luminaries all in one place, and they should.
It’s a no-brainer—the play is a riot and the actors are performing at the top of their game! But first, the average Joe might want to do a little homework. You see, It’s Only A Play is a super-insider account of an opening night on Broadway. We’re talking Smash meets Forbidden Broadway kind of humor. So, for those fans who want to see the stars but don’t have a BFA or an internship at a nonprofit theatre company, BroadwayBox has compiled a quick study guide to help you feel more at home at the Schoenfeld Theatre.
1. Let’s Talk Ben Brantley
Ben Brantley (pictured above) has been the chief theatre critic of The New York Times—the paper of record—since 1996. Which means his review of a new play or musical is the most important for ticket sales, awards and industry respect. So much so in fact that there’s a whole site dedicated to his opinions (DidHeLikeIt.com).
2. Lead Producers Get Tony Glory
A lead producer makes all the decisions regarding the hiring (securing the show, the director, press, marketing, production team, sometimes securing a star) and takes an active role in the running of a play or musical. An investor is a wealthy and generous team member who puts money into the production. Easier way to remember it: the lead producer gives the speech at the Tony Awards, the investors don’t.
3. NY1, It’s a Thing Here For Theatre Fans
NY1 is our local New York news station. They have two programs focused on the arts in Manhattan: On Stage, a weekly half-hour show that runs on the weekends, and On Stage Across America, a monthly program that expands its scope outside NYC. The team includes Donna Karger, Roma Torre, Patrick Pacheco and Frank DiLella.
4. Everyone Needs a Pull Quote
A pull quote is a mega-appealing excerpt from a critical review (preferably Ben Brantley’s but any great quote will do) about your production that you will plaster on posters, billboards and outside the actual theatre.
5. Broadway’s a Family Affair
Daryl Roth is an eight-time Tony Award-winning theatre producer (with an astounding 23 Tony nominations to her credit). She’s the lead kind, the kind that makes speeches at the Tonys. Her son is Jordan Roth, and he is the president of Jujamcyn Theaters, which means he operates five Broadway houses—four of which house Best Musical Tony winners. He has seven nominations and three wins to his name. All this Roth history is just for a single joke in the show, but it’s worth it.
6. Send in the Critics
In 2010, Oscar winner Catherine Zeta-Jones made her Broadway debut in Hugh Wheeler and Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. CZJ played actress Desiree Armfeldt, sang Sondheim’s signature tune “Send in the Clowns” and won herself a Tony Award. Good for her. However, there were many naysayers who want to hop on message boards with their Sondheim-inspired usernames (another It’s Only A Play reference) to discredit the win and tear apart her Tony night performance.
7. Shia LaBeouf Isn’t Willkommen
It’s almost impossible you missed this since it made national headlines, but who knows. Back in June, Shai LaBeouf was arrested at Studio 54 after disrupting a performance of the Tony-winning Cabaret. There was apparently smoking, hitting, and spitting; just recently LaBeouf plead guilty to charges of disorderly conduct.
8. There’s No People Like Show People
9. The New British Invasion
In the past five years, 13 of the major Tony Awards have gone to British productions. I mean we can’t complain, we got James Corden, Mark Rylance and Doug Hodge out of the deal, but still. London has turned into Broadway’s new out-of-town tryout spot, and we welcome their Olivier-winning productions, stars and creators with open arms. There’s almost a mentality of, “it’s British so it must be great.”
10. You Know Wicked Though Right?
Maybe these tickets were a gift because you really love Harry Potter or you were all about Broadway during The Producers but fell off a bit since…either way, there’s a huge, international hit musical titled Wicked. It’s a prequel to The Wizard of Oz and it’s all about the two witches Glinda and Elphaba, and the act one final is this big showstopper “Defying Gravity.” That’s all you need to know. Cue a thousand 14-year-old girls rolling their eyes and tweeting #Obvi.
'It's Only A Play' continues at Broadway's Schoenfeld Theatre through January 4, 2015.