Off B’way catches ‘Bug’

Prod'n reunites 'Joe's' Plummer, Shannon

At least one Off Broadway producer believes it can be 1998-99 all over again.

Scott Morfee brings Tracy Letts’ new play “Bug” to the Barrow Street Theater next month for an open-ended commercial run. The operative words here are “play” and “commercial.” Can the two coexist in the brave new Off Broadway world of 2003-04?

The “Bug” production reunites Amanda Plummer and Michael Shannon, who also headlined Letts’ first play, “Killer Joe,” produced six years ago by Morfee and one of the few plays in recent memory to recoup Off Broadway.

“The 1998-99 season was tremendous for Off Broadway,” Morfee recalled. In addition to “Killer Joe,” he cited such commercial hits as “Wit” and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” “I hope the Off Broadway business model is still viable,” he added.

Despite the intervening four seasons, the $300,000 capitalization for “Bug” replicates what it cost to put up “Killer Joe.” Both plays employ a five-actor ensemble. Described as a sci-fi thriller set in a mysterious motel, “Bug” follows a woman on the lam from her former husband, recently released from prison. Amy Landecker and Reed Birney are also featured. Dexter Bullard directs.

“Bug” previews begin Feb. 21, with the opening set for Feb. 29 at the Barrow Street. Formerly known as the Greenwich House, the 99-seat venue had been home to the Drama Department for many years. Morfee now has the lease and will expand seating capacity to 199 for the “Bug” run. He produces the show with Amy Danis and Mark Johannes.

Drama drought

“Bug” is that rare respite in Off Broadway’s ongoing drama drought.

Despite enhancement money from Daryl Roth and Roy Gabay, “The Long Christmas Ride Home” by Paula Vogel is not making the commercial transfer from the Vineyard to an Off Broadway house. Gotham’s smaller commercial theaters are eschewing plays in favor of novelty shows, such as “Cookin’,” which goes into the Minetta Lane, and musicals like “The Joys of Sex,” opening at the Variety Arts, and “Johnny Guitar,” skedded for Center for the Performing Arts. The Union Square Theater remains empty.

Otto Eskin’s play “Duet” at the Greenwich Street Theater may be the proverbial exception that proves the rule. On the strength of tepid reviews and somebody’s deep pockets, producer-director Ludovica Vilar-Hauser wants to take the play to Broadway’s Circle in the Square. If financing can be finalized, “Duet” looks to open there in early April.

More Legit

  • Saint Joan review

    Broadway Review: 'Saint Joan' Starring Condola Rashad

    At least one Off Broadway producer believes it can be 1998-99 all over again. Scott Morfee brings Tracy Letts’ new play “Bug” to the Barrow Street Theater next month for an open-ended commercial run. The operative words here are “play” and “commercial.” Can the two coexist in the brave new Off Broadway world of 2003-04? […]

  • Branded Game Events, Escape Rooms Scale

    Immersive, Branded Game Content Scales Up With New Merger

    At least one Off Broadway producer believes it can be 1998-99 all over again. Scott Morfee brings Tracy Letts’ new play “Bug” to the Barrow Street Theater next month for an open-ended commercial run. The operative words here are “play” and “commercial.” Can the two coexist in the brave new Off Broadway world of 2003-04? […]

  • Tom Hollander

    Broadway Review: 'Travesties' Starring Tom Hollander

    At least one Off Broadway producer believes it can be 1998-99 all over again. Scott Morfee brings Tracy Letts’ new play “Bug” to the Barrow Street Theater next month for an open-ended commercial run. The operative words here are “play” and “commercial.” Can the two coexist in the brave new Off Broadway world of 2003-04? […]

  • Tony Awards 2018: Nick Scandalios to

    Tony Awards 2018: Nick Scandalios to Receive Isabelle Stevenson Award

    At least one Off Broadway producer believes it can be 1998-99 all over again. Scott Morfee brings Tracy Letts’ new play “Bug” to the Barrow Street Theater next month for an open-ended commercial run. The operative words here are “play” and “commercial.” Can the two coexist in the brave new Off Broadway world of 2003-04? […]

  • Chris Evans

    Chris Evans Talks 'Infinity War,' Broadway and His Future With Captain America

    At least one Off Broadway producer believes it can be 1998-99 all over again. Scott Morfee brings Tracy Letts’ new play “Bug” to the Barrow Street Theater next month for an open-ended commercial run. The operative words here are “play” and “commercial.” Can the two coexist in the brave new Off Broadway world of 2003-04? […]

  • Summer musical review

    Broadway Review: 'Summer,' The Donna Summer Musical

    At least one Off Broadway producer believes it can be 1998-99 all over again. Scott Morfee brings Tracy Letts’ new play “Bug” to the Barrow Street Theater next month for an open-ended commercial run. The operative words here are “play” and “commercial.” Can the two coexist in the brave new Off Broadway world of 2003-04? […]

  • Duncan Sheik, Steven Sater, Jason Robert

    Duncan Sheik, Steven Sater, Jason Robert Brown Set for 2018 Powerhouse Season

    At least one Off Broadway producer believes it can be 1998-99 all over again. Scott Morfee brings Tracy Letts’ new play “Bug” to the Barrow Street Theater next month for an open-ended commercial run. The operative words here are “play” and “commercial.” Can the two coexist in the brave new Off Broadway world of 2003-04? […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content