Watch Elisabeth Moss play the title character in the Broadway revival of Wendy Wasserstein’s “The Heidi Chronicles,” and you can’t help but see Heidi in relation to Peggy, the character on “Mad Men” that made Moss famous.
“Heidi” offers a snapshot of a smart, ambitious woman in a very specific American era, just as “Mad Men” does. Though “Heidi” runs through the late ’80s, both women grapple with career, romance and family, and each finds a different solution. Peggy gives up a baby early; Heidi, approaching middle age, adopts one.
“There’s definitely incredible parallels between them,” Moss said after the show’s opening night March 19. “But Heidi’s more of a protester than Peggy is.”
Pulitzer winner “Heidi Chronicles” is a great favorite in the theater community, as is its author, the late Wendy Wasserstein. But the actors in this revival — unlike in the original production in the late ’80s — come from the generation just behind the one Wasserstein was writing about.
“I didn’t get a lot of the references at first,” admitted Bryce Pinkham, one of Moss’ co-stars. “I didn’t know who Adlai Stevenson or Felix Frankfurter were. But I sent the play to my mom and my grandmother, and they thought it was hysterical.”
Jason Biggs (“Orange Is the New Black”), who plays the other man in Heidi’s life, started work on a Broadway show, “Conversations With my Father,” around the time that “Heidi Chronicles” wrapped up its original run. “I remember the signs, and seeing it had won the Pulitzer,” he remembered. “I remember thinking it’d be nice if our show got that kind of attention. It didn’t!”
Both Biggs and Moss had TV colleagues in the house for opening — for Biggs, Lea DeLaria from “Orange Is the New Black,” and for Moss, Matthew Weiner and John Slattery of “Mad Men.” But Moss said that from up onstage, the crowd felt like it had a more focused, attentive air than most opening-night crowds — which can get rowdy: “Because of course all your friends think everything you say is funny!”